Exclusive: Latest images show severe rust on Philippines’ illegally grounded warship at Ren'ai Jiao; ship may 'cause irreversible damage to marine life'

The hull and interior facilities of the illegally grounded Philippines' warship at Ren'ai Jiao (also known as Ren'ai Reef) are severely corroded, showed a set of images exclusively obtained by the Global Times from the China Coast Guard (CCG) recently.

Experts warned that the illegally grounded warship may cause irreversible and continuous damages to the marine life in the South China Sea.

Since 2023, the Philippines has acted in bad faith, and secretly supplied construction materials to the grounded warship through various means. The Philippines' repeated supplements fully exposed its intention to blatantly violate its promise to tow away the warship, and its attempt to illegally occupy China's Ren'ai Jiao with malicious intent.
The exclusive images obtained by the Global Times from the CCG show that the hull of the illegally grounded warship has damage and leaks, with a large amount of paint peeling off the hull, and many corroded rusts water directly flowing into the sea. The entire ship has almost become a pile of rusty scrap iron, with various personal items and garbage casually placed on the uncovered deck.

Filipino military personnel are fishing on the shallow reef of Ren'ai Jiao. One of the images shows a Filipino military personnel is standing on the grounded warship and is suspected of urinating into the lagoon of Ren'ai Jiao.

The illegally grounded warship looks actually to be no longer suitable for human habitation and living.
Several video clips captured earlier this year show that Filipino military personnel on the grounded warship not only dumped waste water directly into the sea, they also gathered on the foredeck to burn garbage. The actions of the Filipino military personnel have starkly contrasted with the pristine blue skies and clean waters near Ren'ai Jiao, showing their destruction of the marine environment.

Facing such a dilapidated warship, the Philippine authorities have repeatedly violated their promises. Instead of towing away the illegally grounded military vessel, they have attempted to carry out large-scale repairs and reinforcements on it. The transportation has been reinforced since last year.
An anonymous professional told the Global Times that since 2023, the Philippines has repeatedly illegally intruded into China's Ren'ai Jiao, and carried out illegal resupply activities for the warship. In addition to the malicious provocations, the reason behind this is that the warship is severely damaged, and the Philippines needs to resupply building materials to repair and reinforce it in order to maintain their illegal presence in China's Ren'ai Jiao.

"But every time, the intention to secretly resupply building materials is exposed by the CCG, who resolutely stops it," the professional said.

Yang Xiao, deputy director of the Institute of Maritime Strategy Studies at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times that due to the fact that the warship has been grounded for nearly 25 years, the spread of ship hull paint, the dissolution of hull metal rust, the discharge of fossil fuel combustion, and domestic waste onboard the ship have been discharged for a long time on the reefs and waters around the Ren 'ai Jiao.
These toxins continue to spread around the illegally grounded ship's grounding points, causing irreversible and continuous damage to the surrounding marine life. This not only causes the death of marine animals such as fish and shrimps, but also makes cumulative damages to marine aquatic plants. Furthermore, through the food chain, it poses significant adverse effects on the marine ecosystem of the South China Sea and humanity by extension, Yang said.

For ships constantly moving at sea, the paint and pollution of the ship could be continuously diluted by seawater. However, if it's moored or grounded at fixed points for a long time, pollution is difficult to be diluted by seawater due to a lack of water movement, resulting in a gradient of toxins centered on the warship, Yang noted.

"Among them, prominent pollutants include mercury oxide, organotin [TBT], and copper compounds. There is enough scientific research to show that these toxins can cause irreversible pathogenic pollution to marine life. More importantly, with the enrichment of the food chain, these pollutants may enter the human living circle," Yang said.

Yang further stated that the Philippine government, for the sinister purpose of stealing territory from other countries, deliberately ran a dilapidated military ship aground on the beautiful reefs of the South China Sea, and failed to fulfill its promise to remove it for 25 years.

Moreover, the Philippines is unable and unwilling to carry out environmental protection and pollution control on the warship, leading to a large amount of natural and man-made pollutants being directly discharged into the surrounding reefs and waters, which is extremely irresponsible and uncivilized, Yang said.

HK economy sustains growth as tourism, stocks rebound

The Hong Kong economy has seen five consecutive quarters of growth, primarily driven by a revival of inbound tourism alongside the continued recovery of the stock market, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said on Sunday, stressing that the good performance demonstrates the sustained growth momentum of Hong Kong.

The surge in Hong Kong's inbound tourism was a key factor driving the city's first-quarter economic growth. With an increasing number of visitors to the city, services output is steadily rising, as highlighted by the financial chief in his weekly blog.

Around 670,000 visitors from the Chinese mainland had visited the city between Wednesday and Saturday, the first four days of the May Day holidays, which ran from May 1 to 5, Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Kevin Yeung Yun-hung told a radio show on Sunday.

The tourism chief noted that spending by Chinese mainland visitors in Hong Kong is estimated to have exceeded HK$2 billion ($256 million) during the holidays, as arrival numbers aligned with original estimates despite the recent stormy weather.

Hong Kong's economy has maintained a favorable growth trajectory this year, with an accelerating trend overall. This can be attributed to a substantial adjustment of the economic structure following the COVID-19 pandemic, Cong Yi, a professor at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times on Sunday.

More notably, the sustained recovery of the mainland's economy has bolstered Hong Kong's growth and reinstated market confidence in its economic performance, Cong said.

As a front-runner in China's opening-up, Hong Kong is actively driving economic integration with the Greater Bay Area, which offers significant momentum and opportunities for its economic development.

Hong Kong's real GDP grew 2.7 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2024, the fifth consecutive quarter of growth. After seasonal adjustment, the quarterly growth rate stood at 2.3 percent, according to data from the Census and Statistics Department.

As another indication of the stable recovery of the city's economy, Hong Kong stocks have climbed for nine straight trading sessions, with the Hang Seng Index surging by nearly 14 percent overall. The average daily trading volume exceeds HK$128 billion, signaling improved sentiment in the financial markets, Chan pointed out.

The recent rebound in the Hong Kong stock market is expected to have a positive impact on the economy in the second quarter. The central government's support for Hong Kong's economic development and financial market liquidity reflects its commitment to maintaining the city's status as an international financial center, Liang Haiming, chairman of the China Silk Road iValley Research Institute, a Hong Kong-based research institute, told the Global Times on Sunday.

This support has led to a steady rise in financial markets, creating a positive "wealth effect" on the economy and consumption in Hong Kong, sparking optimism in its growth for the following quarters, Liang said.

Hong Kong is stepping up efforts to accelerate economic development by "continuing to build on its traditional strengths while exploring new sources of growth," as the financial chief put it on April 28. 

The Financial Secretary announced at the end of February the withdrawal of all property cooling measures in Hong Kong's 2024-25 budget, eliminating the requirement for additional stamp duties in residential property transactions. With the easing of property market restrictions, related transactions have picked up momentum, and prices show signs of stabilization, according to Chan.

In line with global digitalization and green economic transformation, the budget also proposes various measures to assist small and medium-sized enterprises, including those in the catering and retail sectors, in their digital transformation to adapt to evolving tourist spending patterns, Chan added.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How reincarnation system in Tibetan Buddhism is often misunderstood in the West?

"Cognitive Warfare" has become a new form of confrontation between states, and a new security threat. With new technological means, issues are planted and disinformation spread so as to change people's perceptions and thus alter their self-identity. Launching cognitive warfare against China is an important means through which Western anti-China forces attack and discredit the country. Under the manipulation of the US-led West, the "China threat theory" has continued to foment.

Certain politicians and media outlets have publicly smeared China's image by propagating false claims in an attempt to incite and provoke anti-China reprisals among people in certain countries. These means all serve the evolution of the US' covert China containment strategy in a bid to maintain its hegemony.

The Global Times is publishing a series of articles to systematically reveal the intrigues of the US-led West's cognitive warfare targeting China, and expose its lies and vicious intentions, in an attempt to show international readers a true, multi-dimensional, and panoramic view of China.

Reincarnation system, a concept deeply rooted in Tibetan Buddhism, has long fascinated the Western world. However, this profound belief has often been misunderstood and misrepresented by some Western politicians and media outlets. Besides, the Western portrayal of reincarnation system in Tibetan Buddhism often fixates on the Dalai Lama and the concept of reincarnation was often misused for political motives in the West, further distorting the truth.

This is the sixth installment in the series. In this installment, we invite Yang Yongchun, a chief expert in the Tibetan legal practice from relevant government agency, who holds doctorates in both Buddhist Studies and Law, to delve into this concept and give detailed explanation as to why so many people in the West are misled.
I have been engaged in legal practice on affairs related to the Xizang Autonomous Region for a long time, and have noticed a viewpoint held by many Westerns during negotiations and exchanges with Western political entity representatives at the international level. They believe that the Chinese government, at all levels, should not "dominate" or "interfere in" the reincarnation of important sect leaders in Tibetan Buddhism. Their reasoning is that this is a religious autonomous act based on religious doctrine and tradition.

Due to the complexity of Buddhist doctrines, linguistic barriers, unique Tibetan Buddhism rituals, and the general political inclination of the modern international society toward religious matters, this viewpoint has gained popularity in the West. This issue is related to whether the Chinese government's involvement in the reincarnation of Tibetan Buddhist sect leaders respects Buddhist doctrine and adheres to religious ethics. In simple terms, the viewpoint questions whether the secular laws of the worldly realm can be applied to the designated successors of Tibetan Buddhist sect leaders.

It is evident that the key to understanding this issue lies in understanding how religions approach reincarnation, as well as how the fundamental teachings of Tibetan Buddhism determine reincarnation and people who are reincarnated. Only by doing so can we determine whether the individuals recognized by the reincarnation system in the doctrines and rituals of Tibetan Buddhism are ordinary people in the secular world or mysterious entities that are difficult to substantiate legally. This determines the ethical foundation of Chinese legal regulation regarding the lineage of reincarnation in Tibetan Buddhism, which has lasted for over 680 years.
Solid legal foundation

Looking at the various doctrines of Buddhism, the concept of reincarnation is described as a transformation of social status from the original South Asian caste society, to the expression of individuals' cultivation and realization of truth. There are no particularly mysterious records regarding this.

In Tibetan Buddhism, the inheritance of the Dharma lineage mainly takes the form of family lineage inheritance, master-disciple inheritance of precepts, and the inheritance of the position of temple abbot. The reincarnation inheritance is just one of the common inheritance methods. The Chinese central governments or local governments therefore regulate religious inheritance affairs based on the rule of law and public welfare. This is done in deference to Buddhist doctrines and in full compliance with religious ethics. It is also a management system based on Chinese law, and is not an intervention in any identity or matter with any mysterious implications. This is also the institutional purpose of Chinese laws concerning reincarnation inheritance.

Today, some rhetoric in the West claiming the so-called "Chinese government's intervention in the reincarnation inheritance of Tibetan Buddhism" is based on a fundamental assumption that the Chinese government has no basis or authority to intervene in the reincarnation inheritance of Tibetan Buddhism.

In fact, the Central Government of China's participation in the affairs of the reincarnation inheritance of Tibetan Buddhism, especially in the reincarnation of influential living Buddhas, is based on the "imperial commendation" of the Chinese Central Government.

There is no denying that the issue of the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama is of great concern to Western political entities. Their logic is that the Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of various sects within Tibetan Buddhism, and after the passing of the previous leader, the religious community needs to decide on the future leader and what qualities they should possess. Western political entities view this as a matter of religious autonomy, similar to the process of selecting a Pope in the Catholic Church. However, this interpretation has led to many misunderstandings.

Due to the complexities of religious doctrine, multiple languages, historical knowledge, and legal interpretations, it is quite difficult to clarify these issues. In fact, the process of the reincarnation or succession of high-ranking living Buddhas in China is fundamentally different from the selection of a Pope in the Catholic Church.

As opposed to how the title of the Pope is indeed defined by the Catholic Church itself, the titles of the majority of high-ranking living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism are not similarly prescribed. This is because, aside from the Dalai Lama, most high-ranking living Buddhas of the reincarnation lineage use titles conferred by the Central Government of China. These titles are understood in traditional Chinese law as "imperial commendations," that is, "honorary titles" granted by the Central Government of China to the leaders of religious sects.

Second, imperial commendation must be legally recognized by the Central Government of China. Taking the title "Dalai Lama" as an example, before the Third Dalai Lama, the great living Buddhas of this reincarnation lineage were actually named after their Dharma names, namely the "Gendun" series of living Buddhas.

The Dharma name of the Third Gendun living Buddha, Sonam Gyatso, was given a hybrid title in Sanskrit, Mongolian, and Tibetan through his exchanges with Altan Khan, the Shunyi King of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in present-day Qinghai, Northwest China. This title was not approved by the central government of China at that time, so the reincarnation lineage was still known by its Dharma name, which was the "Gyatso reincarnation lineage." The Fourth living Buddha in this lineage was Yonten Gyatso.

It was not until February 1653, when the Fifth Gyatso Lama (also referred to in official Chinese documents as "Fuhai Lama") was returning to Xizang after presenting himself before the emperor in Beijing and arriving in Taikha in today's North China's Inner Mongolia, that the central government of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), following the rituals of the Ming Dynasty, granted the Lama the imperial commendation in the Han language, the official language of the country, along with a golden book and seal in Han, Manchu, and Tibetan as symbols of the commendation.

Thereafter, the central government of China began to use the legal abbreviations "Dalai Lama" in official documents.

Clearly, before the Central Government of China granted the imperial commendation, the Gyatso reincarnation lineage of living Buddhas had never had the commendation of "Dalai Lama," nor the translated titles present in English today. References to the "Dalai Lama" in the legislation or legal documents of some countries are even more baseless.

The case of the Dalai Lama illustrates that the Chinese government possesses ownership of imperial commendation, and starting from the significance of the commendation as an object, it inevitably leads to the formation of rights and powers in terms of the "possession of the object" and "use of the object."

From a legal practice perspective, the ownership of imperial commendation has been held by the Central Government of China on behalf of the state at different times, and is granted to the inheritors of Tibetan Buddhism for use. Any reincarnation lineage that accepts the imperial commendation necessarily has the duty to maintain historical customs and stability. Historical central governments of China have maintained their legal involvement in the Tibetan Buddhist reincarnation tradition by relying on imperial commendation.

If Western political individuals examine the historical and legal facts of the successive Chinese central governments' lawful participation in the reincarnation traditions of Tibetan Buddhism in a truly responsible way, it is evident that "participation according to law and historical precedents" has been a consistent approach by the Chinese central governments. If, under the guise of human rights, one distorts or attacks the centuries-long legal and institutional facts of a country, they will not gain the understanding and respect of rational people who have good intentions for the world.

China, five Mekong River countries launch ‘Lancang-Mekong Week’, agreeing to deepen cooperation: FM

China has announced plans to deepen engagement with the Mekong River countries through a series of activities to celebrate the "Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Week" scheduled from Monday to Sunday, Chinese Foreign Ministry revealed on Monday.

The events, aimed at commemorating the 8th anniversary of the LMC's inception, is expected to involve more than 20 ministries and provincial and municipal governments from China. They will work with the five countries along the Mekong River to host more than 80 events, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said on Monday.

The activities include discussions and field visits focused on water resource cooperation, round-table dialogue on green and low-carbon policies, exhibitions showcasing achievements in aquatic biodiversity conservation and fisheries cooperation, as well as seminars on wetland conservation management, Lin added.

The LMC is a regional cooperation mechanism co-constructed by China and the five countries along the Lancang-Mekong River -- Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The mechanism aims to build a community of shared future in the region, Lin explained.

Supported by Lancang-Mekong Cooperation, the involved countries have implemented projects to benefit local residents by ensuring food, vegetable, and fruit supply. Emerging collaborations in digital economy, new energy and aerospace, alongside the acceleration of the Lancang-Mekong Innovation Corridor, are expanding, with cooperation in the fields of cultural tourism and media continuing to deepen, Lin said.

The spokesperson reaffirmed China's commitment in ensuring downstream flow from the Lancang River, sharing hydrological information throughout the year. The country strongly supports Mekong River countries in coping with floods and droughts. Countries of the LMC have made joint efforts in combating transnational crimes, including online gambling and telecom fraud, to help maintain peace in the region.

At the 4th LMC Leaders' Meeting and the 8th LMC Foreign Ministers' Meeting last year, significant areas of consensus were reached among the six countries on deepening cooperation in connectivity, green development, and non-traditional security issues, said the spokesperson, and the adoption of the Five-Year Plan of Action on Mekong-Lancang Cooperation has charted the course for further collaboration. 

Amid the changing world, building a united, stable, and prosperous Lancang-Mekong zone remains a shared aspiration of LMC countries. China pledges to adhere to its diplomatic principles of mutual benefit and inclusiveness, aiming to deepen the construction of a community of shared future for Lancang-Mekong countries, Lin said.

AI, robotics, quantum computing in focus as China strives to develop new quality productive forces

Developing new quality productive forces has become a major theme in China's policymaking since it was first put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September 2023. It is also listed as a priority for this year's economic tasks outlined in the Government Work Report delivered to the ongoing two sessions in Beijing.

"China will strive to modernize the industrial system and develop new quality productive forces at a faster pace this year," noted the report, which placed sci-tech innovation high on the government's agenda.

The national lawmakers and political advisers have expressed full confidence on the prospects of China's sci-tech advance and economic development, saying that the rapid development of strategic emerging industries such as artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing and new green energies will shore up sustainable momentum to support the high-quality development of Chinese economy.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, on Tuesday stressed developing new quality productive forces in China in accordance with local conditions during the second session of the 14th National People's Congress (NPC), the Xinhua News Agency reported.

President Xi called for focusing on high-quality development as the top priority, urging efforts to step up innovation, foster emerging industries, adopt forward-thinking plans for developing future-oriented industries and improve the modernized industrial system.

New growth drivers

The term - new quality productive forces - emerges from continuous breakthroughs in science and technology, which will drive the development of strategic emerging industries that may bring disruptive technological advances in the era of intelligent information.

Developing new quality productive forces is a decisive step in the economy's high-quality development course, Guo Guoping, an NPC deputy and a vice director of the Key Laboratory of Quantum Information of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times.

"The concept offers guidance for our country to take advantage of the historical opportunity of a new round of technological upgrade and aims to develop strategic emerging industries and future industries," Guo said, noting it is of great importance for China to implement innovation-driven development strategy, seize the high ground in global industrial competition and build up China's manufacturing edge.

Currently, the development of new quality productive forces in China is picking up pace.

Official data showed that China's output of new-energy vehicles reached 9.44 million in 2023, up 30.3 percent on a yearly basis, while the output of solar panels rose by 54 percent to reach 540 million kilowatts. Last year, the country's production of service robots reached 7.83 million sets, up 23.3 percent year-on-year.

The development of new quality productive forces has great potential in China, as its huge market place ensures full testing, application and evolution of new technologies and new business models, Xu Jiuping, a professor of Sichuan University and a member of the National Committee of the 14th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), told the Global Times.

Xu advocated that enterprises, with the support of national innovation policies, make full use of the market demand to help China's manufacturing sector overcome shortcoming and boost the development of new quality productive forces in China.

AI Plus initiative

In recent years, the economic growth in the world was mainly driven by new technologies, which would give birth to new industries and then form new productivity. In order to promote the development of new quality productive forces in China, analysts said the country should firmly adhere to deepening scientific research and technological innovation.

China is now beefing up support for building new manufacturing lines that are integrated with advanced tech breakthroughs such as AI, quantum computing and new and green energies. China ranked 12th place in the 2023 Global Innovation Index, and became the country with the largest number of top 100 sci-tech innovation clusters in the world for the first time, according to the latest ranking by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

It's projected that global AI competition will become a systemic contest in 2024, which will also be a crucial year for China and the US to compete in the in-depth application of generative AI breakthroughs said Liu Qingfeng, chairman of Chinese artificial intelligence company iFlytek who is also a deputy to the NPC.

Liu suggested that China should accelerate technological advances in key sectors including neural science, brain-like intelligence innovation, and quantum computing so as to achieve an overtaking on the curve.

Yang Jie, chairman of China Mobile and also a member of the National Committee of the CPPCC, suggested that the country boosts an AI Plus initiative in the national level by strengthening top-level design and clarifying development goals and key tasks, in order to fully give play to the huge potential of AI in achieving leapfrog development of technologies, industrial upgrade and productivity.

Comprised of AI and the manufacturing sector, smart manufacturing is an important part of forming new quality productive forces. However, China's smart manufacturing faces three major problems: Supply capability need to be strengthened, application needs to be promoted, and a standard system needs to be established, said Zhong Zheng, an NPC deputy and vice president of Midea Group.

She suggested that the country support leading companies in various industries to take the lead in developing industrial solutions so as to help more companies set up world-leading smart factories.

While putting focus on emerging and future industries, Chinese analysts said the country should aggregate high-level innovation talent to foster the whole chain of innovation. In addition to independently nurturing high-level talent, the country should also deepen reforms in talent introduction channels and set up a new mechanism to attract talent from all over the globe.

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.