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.

China's success in EV development lies in innovation, not 'overcapacity'

Recently, US officials have accused Chinese industry of overcapacity, particularly in sectors like electric vehicles (EVs), solar panels, and semiconductors. They argue that China's low-priced products threaten industries in the US.

However, a closer examination from the perspective of technological cycles, industrial organizational structure evolution, and the role of industrial policies reveals a reality that contradicts the US officials' ridiculous claim.

Critics often attribute China's competitive edge in new-energy products to overcapacity, pointing to the low prices of Chinese manufactured goods. Yet, this oversimplification ignores the complexities of technological progress and industrial dynamics. Historically, constant tech advancements have led to cost reductions and improved affordability for ordinary consumers.

China's edge in new-energy technology and Chinese EVs' relatively low market share overseas suggest that the price advantage is driven by homegrown innovation while not overcapacity.

Moreover, China's leading position in patents for key technologies like solid-state batteries underscores its technological prowess. While some argue that "China is flooding international markets with cheap products," the reality is different.

For instance, Chinese new-energy vehicles (NEVs) are often priced higher overseas than domestically, for example, the BYD Seal is priced at 180,000 yuan ($24,880) in China, approximately 370,000 yuan in the Netherlands, and 411,800 yuan in the UK, indicating that pricing strategies are not solely dictated by oversupply but also by market dynamics and production efficiency.

Hence, the competitive pricing of China's new-energy products stems not merely from sufficient supply, but rather from overcoming technological barriers through diligent research and development, constant enhancement of product performance to lower costs, and optimizing production efficiency across the entire industrial chain.

Another criticism leveled against China is the prevalence of loss-making manufacturers, which some attribute to government support and a refusal to allow companies to exit the market. However, this isn't telling the truth. Losses in high-tech industries during the early stages of development are not uncommon, as companies often require significant investment in research and development.

For example, Amazon was founded in 1995, but it did not become profitable until 2015, according to media reports. Tesla was established in 2003, but it did not make a profit until 2020. In particular, Tesla was once on the verge of bankruptcy because of its inability to mass produce. The survival of these companies depends on their ability to attract capital and their competitiveness in the market.

While some NEV ventures in China have indeed experienced losses, market forces determine their fate. Companies with competitive products can attract funding and continue to operate, while others may exit the market due to lack of competitiveness. In the past four years, 12 NEV companies in China have closed down, including WM Motor and AIWAYS. Rather than being solely attributed to overcapacity, the ability of loss-making companies to survive and eventually thrive is a testament to the investors' belief in the industry's potential and the companies' ability to deliver on that promise.

Critics also point to China's industrial policies as a factor contributing to "overcapacity." However, a comparison with industrial policies in developed countries tells a different story. Moderate policy support is not indicative of overcapacity but rather reflects a strategic approach to nurturing emerging industries. Industrial policy has played a crucial role in driving innovation and fostering economic transformation in developed countries.

For instance, the US government's support for the domestic semiconductor industry in the 1950s and South Korea's protection of its local semiconductor chip industry in the 1990s demonstrate the positive impact of government policy interventions.

In recent years, the US has implemented subsidy policies aimed at promoting the adoption of NEVs. However, the outcomes of these initiatives have been less than satisfactory.

For instance, under the US Inflation Reduction Act, EVs assembled exclusively in North America were eligible for a maximum subsidy of $7,500 in tax deductions. Despite this incentive, major companies such as Apple and Ford have shelved their plans for all-electric vehicles. Even with government subsidies in place, many American firms struggle to keep pace in the competitive landscape of the NEV industry.

Overall, the industrial policies of China's new-energy development have been very successful. The Chinese government has not only proactively and effectively laid out the new-energy industry, but also gradually reduced policy support after nurturing a large number of enterprises, accelerating the survival of the fittest for new-energy enterprises.

The accusations of "overcapacity" in China's new-energy industries are misguided and oversimplified. China's success in the industries is not the result of overcapacity but rather of strategic investment in technology, innovation, and market-driven policies. Rather than blaming China for its competitiveness, a more constructive approach would involve understanding and leveraging global market dynamics to foster cooperation and innovation in the new-energy sector.

Exploring China's rural transformation along Xi's footsteps - Guangxi's grape village Maozhushan

Editor's Note:

China Rural Revitalization magazine has published a series of articles on the rapid development of rural areas in China with new transformations. The articles reflect the arduous efforts of rural revitalization across China, which is an important and genuine solution to China's rural economic development. In the future, articles selected from this series will be published.
Maozhushan village, located in Nanyi village, Caiwan town of Guilin in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, is a natural village with only 46 households and 156 residents. The village, although named for the mountains and hills of moso bamboo, is known far and wide for the development of its local grape industry for over 20 years.

In 2002, grapes were first grown in Maozhushan, a once-impoverished village covering an area of 60 hectares. Many young villagers who moved to big cities as migrant workers gradually returned to their home village and were employed in the grape industry.

In April 2021, when Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a formal visit to Guangxi, he stopped at Maozhushan village.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, inspected the local grape-growing industry and called for greater efforts to pursue rural vitalization based on local specialty industries to make better use of science and technology in promoting the agricultural sector.

He also stressed measures that can ensure farmers to benefit more from the development of rural industries.

Xi walked through the village, dropping by the home of villager Wang Deli and chatting with the family.

He said that as the CPC is about to celebrate its centennial in 2021, China has scored a complete victory in its fight against poverty. However, he said promoting rural vitalization on all fronts will be no easier than the battle to fight poverty, allowing no letup or sluggishness.

Tech empowerment

"We planted a total of more than 320 mu (21.3 hectares) of grapes, with 192 mu of grape varieties improved. After the improvement, the retail price of grapes per jin (0.5 kilogram) increased by 3-5 yuan ($0.69)," said Wang Hairong, head of the local grape planting association.

In discussing new varieties and technologies used by the village's grape industry in the past few years, Wang has strong opinions.

"We also standardized the grape planting base, converting the old simple sheds into greenhouses with steel frame structure. In addition, we have promoted the application of organic cultivation, drip irrigation and water-fertilizer integration and other technologies, which has not only saved water and fertilizer, but also reduced costs," Wang noted.

Wang stressed that the village set up a 5G intelligent agricultural system - the Maozhushan grape industry digital platform. The platform not only aimed at the scientific management and care of grapes to provide timely and effective data support, but also has significantly reduced the incidence of grape pests and diseases as well as improved the quality of grapes.

"The average yield increase reached nearly 500 jin per mu," Wang said.

In addition to the "hard technology," Maozhushan village also pays special attention to the "soft power" of enhancing the scientific planting of grapes. Over recent years, the village has worked with several Guangxi agricultural research institutions to better promote the development of local grape growing.

The majority of agricultural experts and technicians not only go into the field to guide the adoption of key technologies of grape planting, but also give their opinions and suggestions from the introduction of products, equipment supply to orders for the acquisition.

Pristine water & hills

Noting the changes that have occurred to the environment of Maozhushan village, Wang Junrong, Party chief of Nanyi village, said that over the recent years, local authorities have earnestly practiced the concept of "lucid waters and lush mountains are as invaluable as silver and gold," vigorously implementing a number of infrastructure renewal projects.

In addressing the Maozhushan village environment, Wu Yecheng, an official from the Caiwan town government, was involved in the entire infrastructure upgrading and renovation projects.

According to Wu, Maozhushan village has built a cultural center, a basketball court, a theater, and completed 3.5 kilometers of road widening project as well as 2,200 square meters of parking lot construction and rainwater and sewage separation project.

In addition, the local township government carried out a comprehensive soil and water conservation management project in small watersheds, successfully transforming two weirs and one waterwheel, and comprehensively managed an area of 37.14 square kilometers to protect against soil erosion.

The projects have greatly improved the local environment, with water diversion and irrigation as well as flood discharge and flood relief capacity comprehensively upgraded, said Wu.

In addition, Maozhushan village has also completed the intelligent transformation of a high-standard power grid, providing electric power support for the wider use of drip irrigation technologies for the grape planting bases, so that the local grape industry has withstood the test of the summer and autumn drought in northern Guilin in 2022, with the grape yield increased that year.

The local government has also coordinated with the local telecom company to realize the full coverage of the mobile signal across the village, in a bid to strengthen the timely, fast and accurate communication between the village and the outside world.

In 2022, the theatrical movie My Hometown Maozhushan was filmed in the village, greatly enhancing its popularity and influence.

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.

Hungary-Serbia railway could inspire divided world as protectionism rises

The construction of the Hungary-Serbia railway, a flagship project of the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative (BRI), will help inject new impetus into the economies of the two countries. The railway, plus the China-Serbia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed in 2023, may provide people with a new perspective on the increasingly fragmented global trade situation.

As reported by the Xinhua News Agency on Sunday, Serbia's Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Goran Vesic said that Serbia's participation in the BRI has boosted the overall development of the country and its neighbors. He cited the construction of the Hungary-Serbia railway as an example of successful BRI cooperation.

The Hungary-Serbia railway is a double-track electrified railway with a total length of 341.7 kilometers, including 183.1 kilometers in Serbia. Sitting at the crossroads of Central and Southern Europe - and often seen as a geographical region that straddles both Eastern and Western Europe - Serbia has unique geographical advantages. The construction of the railway is expected to improve connectivity between Hungary and Serbia and help clear barriers from Serbia to Greece's Piraeus Port, a transit hub connecting Europe, Asia and Africa.

The Hungary-Serbia railway is considered an important project to improve physical connectivity, as part of multifaceted cooperation aimed at deepening economic exchanges. 

Connectivity includes not only physical infrastructure like roads and railways but also institutional arrangements to make it easier to strengthen exchanges among different regions.

China and Serbia signed an FTA in October 2023. The signing of the FTA and subsequent tariff cuts have enhanced trade relations, boosted Serbia's exports and - more importantly - served as a bridge to open up new trade routes and ramp up trade and investment between China and Europe. 

Trade between China and Europe reached $1.215 trillion in 2023. Both sides have strong trade complementarity, and unleashing this potential can generate more positive influences on Europe's economy, helping solve problems it faces, such as stubborn inflation. 

The lingering question is how to unleash this huge potential. There are two critical factors. On the one hand, we should continue to promote infrastructure interconnectivity; on the other hand, we should take concrete actions to reject all forms of protectionism and unequivocally advocate for and support free trade.

Facing a complex and volatile international situation, China and Serbia, acting as each other's "ironclad friends," have continuously enhanced cooperation in multiple fields such as railway infrastructure construction and free trade. These factors interact with one another, forming a joint force to boost economic cooperation.

The nature of cooperation is mutually beneficial, and that's why the Serbian side holds a positive attitude toward cooperation with China. Vesic said Serbia is proud of its participation in the BRI, under which Chinese companies have undertaken many infrastructure projects in the country.

The construction of the Hungary-Serbia railway reached a milestone on April 25, when the track-laying work for a 108-kilometer section between Novi Sad and Subotica in Serbia was completed. It's not always easy to undertake large-scale infrastructure projects, and the construction of the Hungary-Serbia railway faces some challenges, but the project has been steadily advancing. That's because this is good for the Serbian economy, which could benefit greatly from infrastructure projects.

Amid global economic uncertainty, various countries, including those in Europe, are trying to gain new growth momentum as traditional drivers weaken. What is needed today is to improve economic connectivity and further promote free trade. As long as cooperation can bring tangible economic benefits to local economies, it will eventually overcome temporary challenges and difficulties.

The US-advocated "decoupling" and Washington's geopolitical games have brought enormous challenges to global trade, but globalization and free trade are the only ways to promote mutually beneficial cooperation. Politicians with a sober mind will not politicize economic issues and not fall into the "decoupling from China" trap.

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.

Two giant panda cubs set off for their new home in Madrid

The giant pandas "Jin Xi" and "Zhu Yu" on Monday took off from Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, bound for Madrid Zoo in Spain to begin a 10-year stay. 

Chinese netizens and panda fans have expressed their hope that the two pandas will be well taken care of in Spain. "While abroad, please let the Spanish fans take over the guardianship and take good care of you two babies!" one netizen wrote.

"As the 20th generation of pandas, you two can fly the highest and farthest, opening a new chapter in your panda lives. Stay safe and healthy in a foreign land, and may you spend these long 10 years happily and joyfully!" said another.

"Jin Xi," a male panda, was born on September 1, 2020. "Zhu Yu," a female giant panda, was born on October 25, 2020.

According to Chinese flight tracking platform Feichangzhun, the China Airlines CA3103 cargo plane is responsible for transporting the pandas. The flight took off at 11:24 am on Monday Beijing time, with an estimated flight time of 13 hours and 53 minutes, arriving at Madrid Barajas Airport at 7:20 pm, local time. This is the first pair of pandas to travel to Europe for residency since the second half of 2019. 

To ensure the smooth arrival of the two pandas in Spain, both China and Spain have made thorough preparations. The Chinese panda base has isolated and quarantined the two pandas ahead of travel, ensuring dedicated care and regular check-ups. 

To ensure comfort and safety during the transportation, the panda base has customized special air transport cages to allow the pandas to move, eat, and rest freely inside the cage. Additionally, the panda base has prepared an ample supply of fresh and high-quality local bamboo and bamboo shoots from Southwest China's Sichuan Province, and arranged for a veterinarian and three specialists to accompany the pandas on the flight to take care of "Jin Xi" and "Zhu Yu's" health and diet. 

After arriving at Madrid Zoo, Chinese experts will stay for about three months to accompany the pandas through the quarantine period, complete stress adaptation and behavioral training, and help them quickly adapt to their new living environment. 

They will also provide technical guidance and operational training on how to take care of pandas to the zookeepers and veterinarians at Madrid Zoo. 

The Madrid Zoo told the Global Times that they will send a press release and videos once the cubs arrive.

Following suggestions of the Chinese expert team, Madrid Zoo has upgraded the panda pavilion in advance, including renovating the cub nursery to meet the needs of panda cub care, and optimized the facility design to cater to the pandas' climbing habits by adding climbing frames, logs, and other play facilities. Those upgraded facilities will be put into use after passing an inspection by the Chinese team.

Spain has achieved the most fruitful results in the cooperative breeding of giant pandas in Europe. Six giant pandas have successfully been given birth in Spain since the cooperation between China and Spain started. The "panda bond" between China and Spain has been maintained for over 40 years.

According to the Madrid Zoo, after arriving in Madrid, the two giant pandas will undergo a one-month quarantine isolation period, and they may meet the public as early as the end of May local time.

China eyes advancing brain-machine interface technology at 2024 ZGC Forum

Officials, scholars, and business representatives agreed to further promote the development of the brain-machine interface (BMI) technology and fully tap into the broad opportunities of frontier sector at the 2024 Zhongguancun Forum (ZGC Forum) on Friday.

Their statements and comments came at the Brain Computer interface Innovation Development Application Forum, a subforum of the ZGC Forum on Friday, one day after China's first high-performance invasive BMI shine the ZGC Forum, among nine other major technological results.

Xie Yuansheng, an official from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), said during the subforum that the development of BMI technology will be prioritized as a major future industry, and vowed to enhance policy guidance to the sector.

The MIIT pledged to further promote opening-up and cooperation linked to the BMI technology sector, in order to tap in potential development prospects, said Xie, adding that the innovation capability, industrial integration and regulation system will be further strengthened.

The Brain Computer Interface Industrial Alliance, unveiled 10 cases of industrial innovation in brain-computer interfaces developed by enterprises at the subforum, including cognitive ability and mental health measurement systems, wireless wearable high-speed brain-computer interaction devices, and portable brain-computer interface driving safety intelligent control systems.

China's self-developed NeuCyber Array BMI System, unveiled on Thursday at the 2024 ZGC Forum, among the 10 cutting-edge technological results, is a high-performance invasive BMI that could be widely applied for medical treatment for patients struggling with neurological and psychiatric brain diseases.

Core high-performance components like high-throughput flexible microelectrodes of the NeuCyber Array BMI System are domestically produced, with performance comparable with the most advanced international levels, Zhao Bing, an engineer with Chinese Institute for Brain Research, said at ZGC Forum.

NeuCyber Array BMI System is China's independently developed and first high-performance invasive BMI, Li Yuan, business development director of NeuCyber NeuroTech (Beijing) Co, the company that developed this BMI brain chip system, told the Global Times on Friday.

The development of BMI technology has broad application prospects, including many with a science fiction flavor, and it is expected that various applications will accelerate landing in near future, contributing to improving the quality of life for the public, Gu Xiaosong, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said at the sideline of the subforum.

In terms of patent transformation and talent cultivation in the field of BMI technology, China is currently leading the world and outpaced the US. In this regard, China's BMI industry has promising prospects, Gu said.

Research teams from Tsinghua University, Beihang University, and other Chinese universities are among the top in international rankings in BMI sector, Gu noted.

Mohamad Sawan, an academician from the Canadian Academy of Engineering and an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Fellow, told the Global Times on Friday that China can provide a better environment and cooperation ecosystem for BMI research, as China has "an equation doesn't exist outside."

Sawan noted that the BMI research needs to integrate multiple disciplines together, and universities, academies of science and engineering, institutes for medical engineering in China make collaboration more efficient and faster. 

When speaking in which area that BMI technology can benefit more people, Sawan pointed out that some health condition cannot be recovered by drugs or surgery, and it may be applied with BMI equipment for providing economical solution, adding that China has the potential to take the lead in this sector.

Xi calls on Chongqing to promote high-quality development

Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed further efforts to usher in a new stage in the development of China's western region featuring well-coordinated environmental conservation, greater openness and high-quality development, when he chaired a symposium on boosting the development of China's western region in the new era in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality. 

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made an inspection tour in Chongqing from Monday to Wednesday. During the visit, he called on Chongqing to further deepen reform and opening up across the board and write its own chapter in advancing Chinese modernization. 

The remarks and the inspection tour highlighted the great importance the top leader attaches to the development of the western region, which covers more than 70 percent of China's land area and is home to nearly 30 percent of the country's population. The region plays a critical role in China's pursuit of high-quality development and Chinese modernization, and holds great potential in various areas, economists said on Wednesday. 

During the symposium on Tuesday, Xi said China's western region has seen significant achievements on eco-environmental conservation and restoration over the past five years, but the region's development is still facing difficulties and challenges, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The Chinese President said developing industries that leverage local strengths should be the main focus, adding that efforts are needed to adopt a region-specific approach in developing emerging industries and expedite industrial transformation and upgrade in the western region. 

Underscoring the importance attached to greater openness, during the inspection tour of Chongqing, Xi also visited an international logistics hub park to learn about the municipality's efforts in accelerating the development of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor in west China, according to Xinhua. 

China's western region covers Chongqing, six provinces and five autonomous regions, including Southwest China's Sichuan and Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, accounting for 21.5 percent of China's GDP. Although the region's development has been lagging behind the country's eastern coastal regions, in recent years development has been picking up pace. Between 2019 and 2023, the region's combined GDP expanded form 20.5 trillion yuan ($2.83 trillion) to 26.9 trillion yuan, with an annual average growth rate of 4.9 percent. 

"The development in the western region has improved significantly in recent years in terms of infrastructure, industrial upgrade and people's livelihoods," Hu Qimu, a deputy secretary-general of the digital-real economies integration Forum 50, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

In terms of industrial development, the western region has also seen rapid development in recent years. The region is home to nine national level strategic emerging industry clusters in areas such as new materials and biomedicine, and five national level advanced manufacturing clusters such as electronic information and aviation. The region's industrial added value has jumped from 5.8 trillion yuan in 2019 to 8.1 trillion yuan in 2023, according to official data. 

Critical role, vast potential

The symposium on Tuesday further highlighted the western region's critical role in China's efforts to bolster both security and development, as well as its enormous potential in areas such as advanced manufacturing and high-level opening-up, economists said.

"The region is tasked not only to boost local industrial development with many industries shift from the east to the west and provide support in resources and other areas, but also to play a bigger role in the country's opening-up efforts," Dong Shaopeng, a senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Dong noted that there is still great room for the western region to expand opening-up by bolstering connectivity with countries and regions through land transport corridors. 

The western region has developed multiple trade routes with countries and regions in Europe, Central Asia and Southeast Asia in recent years. The New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, which connects China's western region with Southeast Asian countries, can reach 490 ports in 120 countries and regions as of January 2024, with cargo volume jumping 21 percent year-on-year in 2023, according to official data.

Moreover, the western region also plays a crucial role in the China-Europe Freight Train Express. Over the past five years, 35,000 China-Europe freight trains have been launched in the western region, accounting for 50.5 percent of the national total. Thanks to the greater connectivity, the total import and export volume of the western region reached 3.7 trillion yuan in 2023, an increase of 37 percent from 2019.

Greater connectivity and openness of the western region is of great importance to the country's efforts to expand high-level opening-up and bolster both security and development, economists said. 

"Although the capacity of land transport remains relatively low, it has a very high level of security compared to sea transport," Hu said, noting that land transport corridors in the western region can better cope with geopolitical tensions and offer a steady channel for transport of strategic resources under extreme circumstances.

Apart from its great importance in China's long-term security and development, the western region is also crucial in the country's efforts to tackle downward pressure and consolidate the economic recovery in the short term by boosting domestic investment and consumption, economists said. 

"Whether it is from the perspective of responding to international situation, or overall coordination of development and security, or the current need to stabilize growth, it is imperative to boost the development of the western region," Hu said, pointing to the huge potential in infrastructure investment and consumption in the region.

As the region's economic development accelerated in recent years, infrastructure construction and consumption has also been expanding steadily. For example, in the first quarter of 2024, Chongqing saw a 4.4-percent growth in fixed-asset investment, with a 16.7-percent growth in industries and 8.5 percent in infrastructure. Retail sales in the municipality also grew by 5.5 percent year-on-year, higher than the national growth rate of 4.7 percent, according to official data.