China’s Commerce Minister meets Apple CEO, reflects appeal of Chinese market

Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao met in succession with global business executives, including Apple CEO Tim Cook and SK Hynix CEO Kwak Noh-Jung over the last two days. Analysts believe that these visits by prominent CEOs demonstrate the enduring attractiveness of the Chinese market for foreign investment, showcasing China's ongoing commitment to further opening up.

During Wang’s meeting with Apple CEO Cook on Friday, both sides exchanged views on Apple’s development in China and China-US economic and trade relations. Wang said that China’s economy has shown strong resilience, and its long-term positive fundamentals remain unchanged, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Commerce on Saturday.

Wang noted that China has an enormous market size, a complete industrial system, high-quality human resources, as well as a stable and open business environment. China is accelerating the development of innovation-led new quality productive forces, with promising growth prospects in high tech fields such as artificial intelligence and cloud computing, which means huge opportunities for global businesses including Apple.

He also welcomed Apple to continue deepening cooperation in the Chinese market and achieve common development.

Wang also stressed that China-US economic and trade cooperation is a stabilizing force in bilateral relations. The business community is generally opposed to “decoupling” and “breaking chains” with China and to the generalization of the concept of national security. China is willing to work with the US to create a fair, stable, and predictable environment for business cooperation between the two countries.

Cook said that China is an important market and a key supply chain partner for Apple due to its rich talent pool and strong sense of innovation. Apple will remain committed over the long-term development in China and continue to invest in China’s supply chain, research and development, and sales.

Cook is also among a host of business executives that have arrived in China in recent days. They are expected to participate in a series of high-level meetings, such as the CDF, and the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2024, which will start in Boao, South China’s Hainan Province, in the coming week.

On Saturday, Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao also met with SK Hynix CEO Kwak Noh-Jung. On Friday, Wang met with Visa Inc CEO Ryan McInerney and Broadcom President and CEO Hock E. Tan. A day earlier, Wang met with Mercedes-Benz chairman Ola Kallenius, HP Inc President and CEO Enrique Lores and Eli Lilly Chairman and CEO David Ricks, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Cook has been in China since earlier this week, drawing widespread attention in China and around the world. On Thursday evening, Cook attended the grand opening of a new flagship store, which is second only to its Fifth Avenue outlet in New York City, in downtown Shanghai. He is also expected to attend the China Development Forum (CDF), which is expected to kick off on Sunday in Beijing.

Cook’s visit highlights the importance of the Chinese market to Apple, especially at a time when the US tech giant is facing regulatory challenges in Western markets, a technology industry expert surnamed Liu told the Global Times on Saturday.

In early March, the EU hit Apple with an antitrust fine worth 1.8 billion euros ($1.9 billion). And it is likely to face EU probe into its compliance with the bloc’s Digital Law, according to media reports.

Domestically, the US Justice Department and more than a dozen states filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple on Thursday, accusing the giant of illegally monopolizing the smartphone market.

“While it is true that Apple is facing fierce competition from domestic brands in the Chinese market, there is still sufficient room for Apple to grow in China, compared with its situation in the US and Europe,” Liu noted. “So whether it is centered around the Chinese market or the Chinese supply chain, it is worthwhile for Apple to make more effort and investment.”

"There's no supply chain in the world that's more critical to us than China," said Cook in a recent interview with media in Shanghai.

Despite Western voices attacking the Chinese economy, recent visits by global CEOs underscores the continued appeal of the Chinese market for foreign investment, Xi Junyang, a professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times.

“China’s ongoing efforts to open its door wider and expand market access for foreign investors while promoting technological innovation have provided huge opportunities for global businesses,” Xi noted. “Plus its strong supply chain support, for any multinationals, China has become an integral part of their global strategy.”

A diary documenting how an NPC deputy from Xinjiang acts as bridge between the people and the government

Editor's Note:

China's widely watched annual "two sessions" kicked off on Monday this year. The "two sessions" refers to the annual sessions of National People's Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which are known as the country's top legislature and national political advisory body respectively.

The two sessions is a grand occasion that gathers ideas and wisdom of people of all walks of life across the country. It is an important opportunity for the world to better understand China's whole-process people's democracy, in which the people engage in democratic elections, consultations, decision-making, management, and oversight according to the law. Such democracy is not only shown in the votes taking place at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, but also embodied in a motion submitted by a NPC deputy coming from a remote area, or a consultative meeting held among some residents living in a city suburb. It can be felt in many details of Chinese people's daily lives.

During this year's two sessions, the Global Times is launching a series of stories to illustrate the whole-process people's democracy from some of such details. The third story is about the work diary of an NPC deputy from Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. By following in her footsteps, we see how an NPC deputy truly brings the most grounded, warm, and vivid voices from the grassroots to the two sessions.
Over 60 years ago, Rukeyamu Maitisaidi's great-grandfather rode a donkey, wishing to see Beijing. Now, Rukeyamu takes a flight from her hometown to Beijing, serving as a deputy to the 14th NPC at the two sessions.

Departing from Yutian county in the Hotan prefecture of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, it takes less than a day to reach Beijing nowadays.

Once a servicewoman on China's first aircraft carrier, Rukeyamu became an interpreter at the Kurban Tulum Memorial Hall in Yutian county after her military service.

In 2018, she was elected as a deputy to the 13th NPC, and since then, she has frequently visited fields and farmers' homes to communicate with the ordinary people to hear about their needs and wishes.

A week before the two sessions, the Global Times reporters followed Rukeyamu's steps, documenting a diary of how she performed her duties as an NPC deputy.

She expresses that although being a large responsibility, serving as an NPC deputy is an honor. She strives to act as a bridge between the people and the government, helping to convey their demands and address their difficulties, and also to share the happy stories of Xinjiang residents with the whole nation.

A solemn and sacred day

On the morning of March 5, Rukeyamu meticulously adjusts her hat for the last minute.

Dressed in a colorful Uygur long dress and a black coat, she walks into the Great Hall of the People at the heart of Beijing, hand in hand with other NPC deputies from Xinjiang region. They are ready to listen to the Government Work Report of the past year.

After the meeting, she wrote to the reporters, "The Premier mentioned in the report: 'Acting on the people-centered development philosophy, we will fulfill our responsibilities to meet people's basic needs and provide a cushion for those most in need and take more steps to deliver real benefits to the people to their satisfaction. We will make solid progress toward prosperity for all and promote social harmony and stability. By doing so, we will give our people a growing sense of fulfillment, happiness, and security.'"

"As a grass-roots NPC deputy," Rukeyamu told the Global Times, "I deeply resonate with the premier's words."

During the two sessions, the daily routine of NPC deputies is filled with frenetic work and responsibility.

"I will carefully listen to each deputy's report and sort out the beneficial policies to ensure that I can relay this information to the public at the earliest," Rukeyamu said. They adopt household visits or group meetings to ensure the spirit of the two sessions reach the people promptly.

Apart from regular meetings, NPC deputies also participate in discussions on motions and inter-provincial exchanges. "We are not only there to listen to others' speeches but also to prepare our own. It is part of our responsibility as NPC deputies," Rukeyamu emphasizes. She brings the hopes and needs of Hotan and Yutian residents to the two sessions, ensuring their voices are heard.

"In this process, our role as NPC deputies is crucial," she said. Through these actions, the deputies play an indispensable role in connecting the government with the people.

The Global Times learned that the Xinjiang delegation is composed of 60 deputies to the second session of the 14th NPC, representing 11 ethnic groups including Han, Uygur, Kazak, Hui, Tajik, Mongolian, Kirgiz , Xibe, Uzbek, Russian, and Tatar, from various sectors, embodying their region's broad representativeness.

To prepare for this session, the NPC deputies from Xinjiang engaged in intensive research on high-quality development, agricultural construction, rural revitalization, ecological protection, openness to the outside world, water resource utilization, and other important issues concerning economic and social development that the people care about before heading to Beijing.

As of March 4, the Xinjiang delegation had received six draft motions and 106 suggestions, mainly involving the formulation or amendment of laws such as the Employment Promotion Law and the Free Trade Pilot Zone Law. The suggestions mainly cover building a modern industrial system, strengthening green computing power construction, and forming a talent cultivation system, among other aspects.

Two sessions rush

On the eve of the two sessions, Rukeyamu Maitisaidi's workload became extraordinarily heavy. This was the final sprint before heading to Beijing.

With two days left before leaving Yutian, she was still discussing with local township-level representatives at 6 pm. This was the last of more than a dozen of discussions she had held over the past few days, covering residents from every township in Yutian.

The atmosphere in the meeting was fervent. Deputies raised issues they have noticed in their work, concerning livelihood, education, and healthcare, to which Rukeyamu thoughtfully responded.

Rukeyamu had discussions with other deputies in the Uygur language and took notes. Tonight, she would also discuss and study the opinions and feelings collected, refining the motions she would take to the two sessions.

When everything was concluded, everyone left the venue. But Rukeyamu's day was not over yet.

She immediately drove to Friendship village in Mugala town for household visits. Her father, Maitisaidi Aisa, a deputy to the people's congress of Yutian county, accompanied her.

Friendship village is located on the edge of Yutian county, with newly built houses lined up neatly, three-story buildings along the street, and single-story houses with courtyards elsewhere. On the straight village road, children snacking and singing walked home in pairs.
As an NPC deputy, Rukeyamu's household visits were unannounced. She walked straight into a resident's yard at the village head, telling them her purpose immediately.

Only the mistress Aminamu Wupur was at home that day. She was sweeping the yard and warmly invited her guests inside when she saw Rukeyamu.

Aminamu lived in a resettlement house in the village. Yutian, situated on the edge of the Taklamakan Desert, is prone to sandstorms, yet industrious Aminamu kept her home spotless. Her son's wedding photo was displayed prominently at the household's entrance.

From 2011 to 2020, Xinjiang implemented the construction of more than 2.67 million rural resettlement houses, and over 10 million people of various ethnicity have moved into new homes equipped with utilities and designed to be earthquake-resistant.

Aminamu grasped Rukeyamu's hand, telling her that she was very happy with her life and cannot think of many good suggestions, but she hoped Rukeyamu can convey her happiness and gratitude to the national two sessions.

Next, Rukeyamu randomly selected a family in an apartment building to visit. The mistress of the house, Hairulinishahan Aizezi, 42 years old, happily told Rukeyamu that at the end of last year, she, her husband, and their three children moved into this three-bedroom apartment, while their elderly relatives live in another unit opposite their own.

"Most of the money was subsidized by the government; we only had to pay a small part," said Hairulinishahan. They previously lived in an earthen house in the village and never imagined they could live in such a beautiful, modern home.

What excited her even more was that over the past few years, through local training classes, she had learned carpentry and plastering skills and can now work outside as well. With the boom in construction development in Yutian, she has also had many job opportunities.

In today's Mugala town, women have long since shed the old tradition of staying at home to tend to their husbands and teach their children. They step out of their homes to learn skills and find work.

"As an ordinary resident in Yutian, I hope you can convey our greetings and voices to the national two sessions, letting the whole nation know about our happy and fulfilling lives," she told Rukeyamu.

Mission with significance

"My great-grandfather was a deputy to the 4th NPC, and after so many years, in 2018, I was also elected as a deputy to the 13th NPC. I was really excited," said Rukeyamu. "Becoming an NPC deputy is not only an honor but also a responsibility. I feel that my mission is even more significant, and my sense of duty has been strengthened."

Her great-grandfather Kurban Tulum is known as Uncle Kurban. In the 1950s, after the establishment of new China and receiving his own land, the grateful Kurban wanted to "ride a donkey to Beijing" to see Chairman Mao Zedong. His story became widely known across the country and influenced Rukeyamu's upbringing.

In 2012, Rukeyamu joined the navy and was assigned to the aircraft carrier Liaoning in 2013. Despite encountering many difficulties, such as seasickness and language barriers, it was these experiences that made her braver and stronger.

After her military service, she returned to her hometown in Yutian county, Xinjiang and worked at local publicity department. After the opening of the Kurban Tulum Memorial Hall, she took on the responsibility of telling the story of Uncle Kurban.

However, being an NPC deputy is an important identity she holds.

In understanding the opinions and suggestions of the people, Rukeyamu found that many, due to infrequent contact with the news, found it difficult to express themselves on some issues. Therefore, she realized the importance of face-to-face communication.

"We first listen to their opinions and suggestions, and answer immediately if we can; if not, we will discuss with the relevant departments," she said.

Delegate Rukeyamu is well aware that the difficulties and demands of the public need to be resolved through the correct channels. "Some issues can be resolved by the township government, some need to be reported to the county, region, or city level. For those that cannot be resolved, we will bring up at the national two sessions."

For example, during her household visit, Rukeyamu found that the people complained about the high price of tap water. She raised this issue at the county two sessions and it was resolved quickly. "Because this is a work that the county government level can complete," Rukeyamu said.

She particularly mentioned the construction of Yutian Wanfang Airport, which given the large geographical scope of the Hotan region, locals hoped there would be room to build another airport in the region for the convenience of the public. "We reflected this wish at the national two sessions in 2018, and it was soon met with a response from the central government, and the airport was quickly built," she said.

On December 26, 2020, Yutian Wanfang Airport commenced operations. Now, people can take a plane and reach Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang, in one hour and 55 minutes.

Yutian county, located at the southern edge of the Taklamakan Desert, was once a national-level deeply impoverished county. It achieved poverty alleviation in 2020.

"With practical actions, I carry forward my family's oath of ethnic unity and the spirit of my great-grandfather 'to always follow the Party,'" Rukeyamu said.

Since 2017, her family has established a public welfare fund to reward and help students from families that have made outstanding contributions to maintaining social stability.

After the two sessions, Rukeyamu's work continues. "My wish is that the lives of Hotan residents get better day by day," she said.

Xi's Footsteps: Xi's 12 years of greetings and visits before Spring Festival touch hearts, demonstrate Party's emphasis on people's livelihoods

While China prepares for the Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese Lunar New Year, President Xi Jinping extended messages of good wishes, support, and confidence for 2024 to all Chinese people during his inspection tour in North China's Tianjin Municipality on January 1 and 2.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, wished Chinese people of all ethnic groups, compatriots in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan, and overseas Chinese good health and happiness in the Year of the Dragon, and the motherland prosperity, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Since assuming the Party's top post in November 2012, Xi has made it a tradition to spend time with members of the public ahead of the Spring Festival, especially those in disadvantaged groups, extending festive greetings to them.

During past visits, he has brought gifts of festive goods, joined local people making festive foods, and practiced Spring Festival customs.

This not only demonstrates the Party's people-oriented development philosophy and the strong emphasis of the nation's leadership on improving the people's well-being, but also tells of how China strived to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects, also known as Xiaokang, and pursue rural revitalization, analysts pointed out.

People's livelihoods always top priority

The first stop on Xi's two-day Tianjin tour was the Diliufu village in Xinkou township, in Tianjin's Xiqing District, according to Xinhua.

From late July to early August last year, extreme rainfall hit northern China, causing anomalous floods in the Haihe River Basin, and a large area of land in the flood storage and detention basins in Tianjin was inundated.

Briefed about the impact of floods on the city and district, Xi walked into greenhouses to check the growth of vegetables. He asked the farmers in detail about the restoration of greenhouses and the reseeding and sales of vegetables.

Xi then visited the home of a villager named Du Honggang, where he chatted with four generations of the family. He inquired about the family's losses during the disaster, their post-disaster production and income, and carefully tallied the numbers during the talk.

Du told Xi that the floods had affected over 10 mu (0.67 hectares) of corn and vegetables in his home. With the help of the Party and the government, the family quickly overcame the difficulties, especially the fast repair of the vegetable greenhouses, which ensured a good harvest of seasonal vegetables, according to Xinhua.

As the Lunar New Year approaches, the family has stocked up on a lot of New Year goods and the village authorities have also organized some cultural activities, Du said.

During the chat with Du's family, Xi stressed the importance of ensuring the people's livelihoods. Xi said the issue is always on the mind of the CPC Central Committee as well as Party committees and governments at all levels.

"Only when the people are secure can the country prosper," Xi noted.

The message from Xi resonated strongly with the villagers of Diliufu.

Zhang Caiyun, a 64-year-old resident, told that the president's visit has "given the village a festive atmosphere before the arrival of Spring Festival," which falls on Saturday.

She said that for her, the visit was filled with touching moments, as Xi patiently inquired about the villagers' daily lives.

"I didn't expect that the president would visit and that he would pay such particular attention to our matters of concern," she said.

While expressing his delight at the progress of the village's post-disaster recovery, Xi also assured the villagers that the Party's central leadership has "made resolutions to improve the livelihoods of the people by striving to enhance the construction of water conservancy and flood control projects," which was encouraging to villagers like Zhang.

Zhang said the flooding in August 2023 hit the village extremely hard, as farmers saw their rice paddies and greenhouses damaged. Part of the flooded farmlands has now been planted with wheat and vegetables, with a majority of the greenhouses already repaired.

Du Zixi, an entrepreneur who has invested in a tourism program in Diliufu, said the president not only conveyed warmth to the residents, but also extended confidence to businesses. Du said her company will continue to invest in the village and create more jobs for local residents.

It was the third time that the president has visited the flood-hit households since September, as he highlighted the need to ensure that the families have a warm winter.

Xi's tradition of sending his best wishes to the public reflects the Party's people-oriented development philosophy, Xu Xing, a professor of politics at the Zhou Enlai School of Government at Nankai University in Tianjin, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

On Thursday afternoon, Xi also went to an ancient cultural street and visited local distinctive shops, learning about their products, sales, and the development of traditional culture. The president also visited the Peking-Tianjin Campaign Memorial Museum on the next day, where he underscored the necessity of studying and frequently reviewing the history of China's revolutionary war.

The revolutionary traditions should be carried on and the fighting spirit should be strengthened, he stressed.
Strong confidence key to overcoming difficulties

On January 18, 2023, Xi extended festive greetings to all Chinese people when he held virtual talks in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing with the general public from across the country ahead of the Spring Festival.

Speaking with medical workers and an elderly patient at the First Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Xi said that facing this latest wave of COVID-19 infections, medical workers have worked long hours under heavy pressure and with an excessive workload to treat patients. Acknowledging their great contributions to protecting people's lives and health, Xi extended festive greetings to medical workers across the country.

Between 2013 and 2022, Xi visited rural families in Gansu, Shaanxi, Jiangxi, Hebei, Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou and Shanxi provinces and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region before the festival, underscoring the Party's unwavering commitment to boosting rural development.

Looking back at the footprints of the president's visits on the eve of the Spring Festival over the decade, "post-disaster reconstruction" has been a major corner to be addressed head-on.

Back in February 2013, Xi visited the Bulenggou village, in the Dongxiang Autonomous County during his first visit to rural areas before Spring Festival. He inspected a reconstruction site in the county, which was the scene of a ground fissure and subsidence following a landslide in March 2011. At the reconstruction site, Xi required overall arrangements and safe construction to guarantee both the rate of progress and project quality.

Visiting disaster-hit families before Spring Festival showed a strong level of support from the top leadership when the families needed it the most. It boosted people's hope and confidence in overcoming difficulties in the New Year, according to Xu.

In 2018, he visited Yingxiu, a township in Wenchuan county, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, which was the epicenter of a major earthquake that killed tens of thousands in 2008.

In 2022, Xi visited the home of a family in North China's Shanxi that had been hit by floods and learned about their living conditions.

From Gansu, Sichuan, Shanxi to Tianjin, post-disaster reconstruction in each instance and place has demonstrated the institutional superiority of "concentrating resources to accomplish great things" and has left an imprint of the Party's original intention to "let the people live a good life," experts pointed out.

Road to innovation and prosperity

The footsteps of Xi's festive greetings and visits over the past 12 years not only highlight China's efforts to reconstruct disaster-hit areas, but, more importantly, put together China's journey to pursue development and prosperity.

At the Spring Festival in 2015, Xi returned to the village of Liangjiahe where he spent seven years and where his understanding of poverty took root.

"I will never forget Liangjiahe, never forget the villagers here, and never forget the people in the old revolutionary base," Xi said.

"Getting rid of poverty is just the first step toward a happy life, it is a starting point for a new life and new endeavor," Xi noted when he visited the house of pig farmer Li Fashun in Sanjia village in Yunnan Province in January 2020.

Wherever Xi goes, he consistently promotes the concept of ecological priority and green development, continuously painting a new picture of a beautiful China.

In February 2016, he visited East China's Jiangxi Province and called for efforts to manage mountains and water resources and showcase the beauty of mountains and rivers. He encouraged Jiangxi to strive to find a path to economic development that would also complement and be mutually beneficial alongside the improvement of ecological civilization.

Xi's footsteps also showcased China's resolution to pursue all-round rural vitalization, as it is the most effective means to secure the achievements of poverty alleviation.

In February 2021, Xi chose Southwest China's Guizhou Province as his festival visit destination. The once-deprived province with poor initial endowment has become a model of high-quality development by fully tapping its late-mover advantage and an implementor of the country's new development philosophy, with its economic growth rate remaining among the top of the ranks across the country over the last decade thanks to innovation-driven and green development.

The 12 years also witnessed China's focus on independent scientific and technological renovation.

In February 2015, Xi visited the Xi'an Institute of Optics and Precision Machines at the China Academy of Sciences. He required technology professionals to establish a strong sense of innovation responsibility and innovation confidence.

In February 2021, via video link, Xi inspected the 500-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), also known as the China Sky Eye, in Guizhou. During the video chat with workers in the control room, Xi emphasized the need to adhere to the primacy of science and technology and harness the crucial and pivotal role of technological innovation.

This year in Tianjin, he also expressed the hope that Tianjin can become a national advanced manufacturing research and development base, and leverage its advantages in abundant scientific and educational resources to take the lead in developing new productive forces.

At the entry of the Yuangudui village in Gansu, a sentence Xi left during his visit in 2013 was still written there: Let's work together to make our life better and better.

On the eve of the Spring Festival, at a time when Chinese people look forward to national warmth and family unity the most, Xi's greetings and visits to those affected by disasters, inspections to reconstruction projects, and inquiries about replanting efforts, have not only warmed people's hearts, but also conveyed confidence to the public, as strong confidence is the key to overcoming difficulties and is also a must for the nation when it navigates through a complex global landscape to secure its second centenary goal.

Traditional Chinese medicine becomes health envoy in facilitating people exchanges between China and Latin America

Over 2,000 years ago, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) spread to the world along the ancient Silk Road. In the decade since the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), TCM has continued to traverse the world, building "health bridges" and promoting exchanges and mutual learning among countries.

Over this bridge, experts from the Hebei University of Chinese Medicine (HEBCM) visited Brazil from October 28 to November 10, 2023. During the period, they organized seven popular science exhibitions, four academic lectures, and more than 10 free clinics in three Brazilian cities, further promoting the recognition of TCM by the Brazilian public.

Through these activities, TCM, an ancient treasure of Chinese wisdom, is serving as a health ambassador to help promote people-to-people exchanges and cultural integration between China and Latin American, as well as the whole world.

Unexpected popularity

"Via our activities, the Brazilians deeply experienced the advantages of 'simplicity, affordability, and effectiveness' in TCM diagnosis and treatment. Many people have expressed that TCM is truly amazing, and as a result, we have gained a group of fans, some of whom followed the delegation throughout the 14-day visit, while others expressed their intention to come to HEBCM to study TCM," Gao Weijuan, president of the HEBCM, told the Global Times.

When asked about her first impression during the visit, Gao said that she did not expect that TCM would enjoy such a high level of popularity among the Brazilian people.

From what I learned during the visit, there are nearly 200,000 TCM practitioners in various regions in Brazil. Acupuncture has also been incorporated into the Brazilian public healthcare system (SUS), Gao said.

Brazil is one of the Latin American countries that first incorporated TCM into its public healthcare system. In 2006, the Brazilian Ministry of Health implemented the National Policy on Integrative and Complementary Practices of the SUS, which included acupuncture and other TCM practices in the system, allowing more Brazilians to access services through Chinese medicine.
Mesa is a teacher at the University of Brasília and a student signed up for the online acupuncture class at the Confucius Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine at the Federal University of Goiás (FUG).

After learning about the effectiveness of TCM in treating bone and joint diseases, rheumatic joint muscle pain, and neurasthenia, Mesa has been looking forward to personally experiencing the magic of acupuncture. Upon learning that the online class instructor, Zhang Xuanping, was coming to Brazil together with the delegation, she specially traveled from Brasília to Goiania to attend the acupuncture lecture and get insights into the effectiveness of the ancient form of treatment.

"This time I appreciated the benefits of TCM's involvement in Brazilian public health; I think it is truly good," Mesa said.

Douglas, a student from the Confucius Institute of TCM at FUG, not only followed the expert team throughout their activities in Goiania, but also drove 200 kilometers to Brasília with the team to follow their activities.

Douglas is a physical education teacher. He believes that TCM techniques such as acupuncture, massage, cupping, and bone setting are "extremely miraculous" and have extraordinary therapeutic effects on sports injuries.

The welcome and recognition of TCM by the Brazilian public were fully demonstrated during the HEBCM delegation's medical consultations.

On the first day, patients were mainly students from the Confucius Institute, but the effectiveness of the treatment spread by word of mouth, and on the second day, a large number of patients from the surrounding area attended. On the third day, the number of patients doubled, said Wang Xu, the Chinese director of the TCM Confucius Institute at FUG.

According to Gao, the delegation's clinics attracted a total of 1,800 patients over a period of 14 days.

A good reputation was built on solid technology and the effectiveness of the treatment.

Doctor Du Shuangqing from the HEBCM is famous for being good at using uses TCM bone-setting techniques to treat diseases such as lumbar disc herniation and neck and shoulder pain. After a few minutes of treatment, patients might experience significant pain relief and improvement in walking posture.

Du, at the lectures in Brazil, revealed that one of his patients, who had been unable to squat for three years and experienced mobility difficulties while climbing stairs, was initially advised to consider surgery by a Brazilian doctor. However, after receiving TCM bone setting treatment, the patient could not only squat down, but could also easily climb stairs without the need for surgery.

Du said that he used to prefer surgical solutions as well, but as his bone-setting techniques improved, the need for surgery decreased while the treatment outcomes improved.
In addition to Brazil, other Latin American countries such as Argentina, Chile, Peru, Cuba, and Venezuela are also increasingly focusing on learning the concepts of TCM.

Some countries have already incorporated TCM into their medical schools' curriculums, while others are exploring the possibility of cooperation with Chinese medicine institutions.

A staffer at the International Education College, the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SHUTCM), surnamed Lu, told the Global Times that Latin American experts, and young students have been some of the most enthusiastic participants in the SHUTCM summer schools for foreigners.

Since 2012, 48 students from this region have attended SHUTCM's summer schools. Other workshops for senior health officials from countries associated with the BRI have seen 44 participants from Brazil, Argentina, and Chile.

Upgraded cooperation

The HEBCM expert delegation also witnessed upgraded cooperation between HEBCM and FUG.
On October 30, 2023, a brand new TCM diagnosis and treatment center was officially unveiled at the TCM Confucius Institute, FUG, the only Confucius Institute of TCM in Latin America.

Camila Cardoso Caixeta, director of the School of Nursing, FUG, hailed the inauguration of the center, saying that it marks the beginning of a new chapter in history - the school is about to become a beacon of TCM in the state of Goiás and Brazil as a whole.

"The immersive and continuous training conducted by Chinese experts for our team signifies an important step toward providing high-quality and comprehensive care," she said.

Brazil has abundant plant resources and a tradition of using herbal medicine, but there is a lack of understanding and application of herbal medicine. Based on this, there is vast potential for cooperation between China and Brazil in the development and utilization of medicinal plant resources, according to Gao Weijuan.

Shortly after the HEBCM expert delegation's visit to Brazil, a senior delegation from the FUG consisting of the university's vice president Jesiel Freitas Carvalho, Caixeta, and Brazilian president of the FUG Confucius Institute of TCM Francisco Jose Quaresma de Figueiredo paid a visit to HEBCM on December 4.

The two universities conducted consultations on the details of jointly launching a professional nursing master's education program and co-establishing the International Joint Research Center for TCM acupuncture in Hebei, and have reached preliminary consensus on the content of the aforementioned project cooperation agreement.

Both parties expressed their hope to continue to work together to promote the high-quality development of the Confucius Institute of TCM, and at the same time, expedite the implementation of new projects and deepen cooperation in the teaching and research of TCM and nursing.
In order to further promote the development of TCM in Brazil, Reginaldo Filho, founder and director general of Faculdade EBRAMEC (which stands for Brazilian College of Chinese Medicine), also visited the SHUTCM in October 2023. During the visit, Filho showed great interest in the SHUTCM's self-invented instruments for the modern application of TCM, and had deep conversations with the university's staffers on topics including the theories and clinical practices of TCM, and possible further cooperation in this field, according to Lu.

Health ambassador

TCM is becoming a popular healthcare approach in Latin America, promoting exchanges and integration between China and the world with its unique charm. It also has become a unique channel for people in Latin American to learn about Chinese culture.

In Brazil, the channel was based on the function of the Confucius Institute of TCM, FUG. Founded in October 2019, the institute hosted a total of 41 classes as of the end of December 2023, including 27 levels of Chinese language classes, and 14 classes on the overview of TCM, acupuncture, massage, and Tai Chi, attracting a total of more than 700 students.

Nearly 100 cultural exchange activities related to Chinese culture have also been held. An online Chinese Bridge project with a TCM theme was hosted, attracting students from nine countries including Brazil, Canada, and Egypt to learn Chinese and TCM courses, promoting the global understanding of TCM.

TCM is a precious gem of ancient Chinese science and also a key to unlocking the treasure trove of the Chinese civilization. China has attached great importance to TCM, and the inheritance, innovation, and development of the ancient medical science have ushered in a favorable condition for the industry as a whole.

As a facilitator of cultural exchanges between China and other countries, TCM is not only a beautiful calling card, but can also showcase its inherent unique charm, attracting Brazilians to experience Chinese medicine and understand China, and promote people-to-people connectivity, Gao noted.

In the future, the Chinese TCM industry should increase the cultivation of high-level talent, especially cultivating students' international perspectives and building a first-class talent pool.

"We should closely integrate with the BRI, firmly go global, not only to Latin America but also to Southeast Asia and Europe, so that the therapeutic effects of TCM can benefit people in countries and regions around the world," Gao stressed.

2023 Yearender: Story of Village Super League top scorer’s pursuit of sports dream portrays a more vibrant countryside

Editor's Note:

The end of the year and the start of a new one is a time for reflection and anticipation. Throughout 2023, the Chinese society has undergone various developments and changes, which manifests the exploration and practice of the Chinese path to modernization.

In light of this, the Global Times is launching a series that elaborates on this unique path through the stories of ordinary people's New Year's wishes. These wishes serve as a window to the changes and achievements of Chinese society as Chinese modernization has brought Chinese people more concrete consensus, a more vibrant countryside, more imaginative innovation, more balanced education, a more dignified old age with stronger security, and a more confident civilization. This shows that Chinese modernization is the prerequisite and driving force for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

This is the second installment in the "Wish List" series, telling the story of a soccer player from the Village Super League in Southwest China's Guizhou Province who has realized his dreams through sports over the year and witnessed the tremendous changes in his hometown. As 2024 approaches, he makes a wish to score more goals with his teammates and lift the championship trophy. If possible, he also dreams of competing with world-class soccer stars. His wish portrays a more vibrant countryside brought about by Chinese modernization.
As the year ends, Dong Yongheng busies himself with the year's final to-do list.

Media line up to interview him, eager to hear a rundown of the last year from the Village Super League top scorer; after being hired as a soccer consultant for local primary and secondary schools, he has assumed the role of instructor, teaching students about soccer in a weekly class; his family's rice starch roll diner is booming, and equally demands his attention… At the beginning of the year, Dong didn't imagine such an eventful life.

Back to the end of July, on a sultry night, the open-air sports stadium in Rongjiang county, Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture of Guizhou was transformed into a spectacular carnival site. Crowds surged, drums roared, and locals dressed in splendid ethnic attire, singing and dancing. Tens of thousands of spectators arrived, eagerly anticipating the birth of the first Village Super League champion.

As the leader of the "Loyalty" team, Dong and his teammates - friends with whom he has played street soccer for years - emerged under the pitch floodlights. For two months prior, they had been striving toward this very goal.

An opening goal, an equalizer, a comeback, a buzzer-beater… no winner emerged from the 90-minute match. In the penalty shootout round, the "Loyalty" team narrowly lost.

After failing to lift the championship trophy with his teammates, Dong felt a sense of regret. "The ball is round," he consoled himself with the famous words of Sepp Herberger, the former West Germany national team coach who created the "Miracle of Bern."

Soon after, however, he was happily lifting the tournament's top scorer prize - several Rongjiang small fragrant chickens - and was overcome by the joy of soccer.

That match became the most memorable moment of 2023 for him.

Dong recalled that at the beginning of the Village Super League competition, only team cheerleaders would be present at the stadium, but as the competition's popularity grew through social media and celebrity visits, the fame of the Village Super League also increased. "One afternoon, as I drove past a bridge near the stadium, I found the whole place filled with spectators."

"I realized that our Village Super League had really shot to fame, which was unbelievable," he told the Global Times.

Dong started playing soccer during the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup. Never having received professional soccer training, he has always been a street soccer kid. At the beginning of the Village Super League competition, he just wanted to participate as part of a fitness kick.

As the event gained more attention, he began to build team stamina by reviewing past game footage, and studying opponents' weaknesses. "As a soccer enthusiast, I can show my skills and keep fit; and for Rongjiang, we have really made a name for ourselves," he said.

After a year of "craziness," Dong feels his life has become more fulfilling. "Before, life might have been just about daily necessities, but through the Village Super League, I began to pursue my passion. My life has become more colorful," he said.

Dong still runs his rice starch roll diner. He is personally overseeing everything from the rice wrapping to the filling and the cooking of the establishment's offerings.

"Making rice starch rolls is a very tedious task, similar to challenges in soccer, but once you get through them, you will be pleasantly surprised," he said.

Dong's carefully made rice noodles have received high praise from customers and he was even crowned the "Rice Starch Roll King" of Rongjiang in 2022. Becoming a top scorer in the Village Super League made his shop even more popular, selling out every day by 10 am.

"I am the best soccer player among those who wrap rice starch rolls, and the best at wrapping rice starch rolls among soccer players," he laughed.

When asked about his dream in soccer, Dong said: "I want inspire young people to persist and not give up in the face of difficulties with my personal experience. If I have the chance, I want to compete with my idol Messi."

And his goal for the New Year is clear - to win the Village Super League championship alongside his teammates.
A colorful fest

The Village Super League, or "Cun Chao," was created by the locals and primarily features village players in Rongjiang. Since its inception in May, it has rapidly gained popularity online, attracting numerous soccer tourists. It has brought joy to the villagers and spectators, and boosted the local economy, allowing the world to recognize the colorful culture of Rongjiang and Guizhou, and showcasing the happiness of Chinese rural life.

Match venues are regularly packed, with tens of thousands of spectators per game, sometimes exceeding 50,000 fans at peak times. The event has enjoyed sustained online popularity, with over a hundred related topics on Douyin alone, garnering over 5 billion views.

Notable figures, including Chinese soccer commentator Han Qiaosheng, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, and British football legend Michael Owen, have all praised the event on their social media accounts, showing its immense influence and widespread appeal.

A Yahoo Finance article stated that the Village Super League is a passion that transcends sports. The simple times are history; villagers no longer worry about affording food or clothing. They have more confidence in their lives and strive for better things. The Village Super League showcases the vitality of rural life and people's hopes for the future.

Similarly, An Asia International News article mentioned that this rural soccer event has awakened a sleepy Chinese county amid a tourism boom. The surge in tourists has been a boon for Rongjiang's economy, with visitors flocking to rural areas, purchasing local delicacies, staying in villagers' homes for a fee, and engaging with local ethnic minorities to learn about their respective cultures.

The success of the Village Super League goes beyond the soccer field. During the event, the area around the field becomes a stage for cultural display, allowing spectators to enjoy not only exciting soccer matches but also local ethnic minority cultures. Vibrant ethnic costumes, melodious music, and enthusiastic dances all showcase the area's rich cultural heritage. Moreover, local specialties have found a great platform for display and sale during the event.

The Village Super League has helped locals create new income sources, bolstering the local economy and promoting rural tourism and cultural industries. During the 2023 Dragon Boat Festival in June alone, Rongjiang, a small county with a population of just 385,000, welcomed 358,900 visitors, a 345.84 percent increase compared to 2022, generating a total tourism revenue of 444 million yuan ($62.2 million).

The success of the Village Super League reflects the stability and development of the nation. In November 2020, Rongjiang county, as one of the last nine counties to be removed from the poverty list in Guizhou, marked a significant milestone. The unprecedented poverty alleviation campaign has helped Guizhou shed its old label and leap forward by centuries. According to the Xinhua News Agency, since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, Guizhou has lifted 9.23 million people out of poverty at a rate of over 1 million people annually, the highest number in China.

The report to the 20th CPC National Congress also highlights the comprehensive promotion of rural revitalization, calling for coordinated rural infrastructure and public service layout to build livable and business-friendly beautiful villages. In recent years, culture, sports, and technology have continuously empowered rural revitalization, increasing people's happiness and creating a more vibrant rural atmosphere in China.

Dong feels deeply about the changes in his hometown. "When I was in college, it took over 8 hours to travel from Rongjiang to Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou. Now, with highways and high-speed rail, it only takes a little over an hour."

"It is only because the country is prosperous and the hometown has shaken off poverty that we have enough time to participate in such competitions and have such enthusiasm and unity. The success of the Village Super League is the result of everyone's joint efforts," he said.

According to Dong, the new season of the Village Super League will kick off in January 2024 and last until about May, "to avoid clashing with major sports events like the European Championship held in the summer." Rongjiang will also host an invitation tournament in the second half of the year. He heard that teams from countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will also come to compete.

The Premier League of England has already taken action. In late November, a delegation from the Premier League, led by senior international advisor Graham Robinson, conducted a cooperation survey in Rongjiang county. They subsequently signed a strategic cooperation memorandum with the Village Super League management center to aid the sustainable and healthy development of Chinese soccer. In mid-December, the first training session organized by the Premier League commenced in Rongjiang, where 44 soccer players, referees, and coaches from the Village Super League learned about training techniques and coaching philosophies.
Showing vitality to world

The Village Super League is just one of many examples that showcase the vitality of rural China.

This spring, a young model from the rural area of South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region took Paris Fashion Week by storm.

Lu Xianren, born in 1999 in Hengxian county, Guangxi, stood out with his meticulously tailored black suit, pristine white trousers, and unique hairstyle.

Unlike traditional models, Lu's journey began on a country road in Guangxi. In 2019, he left his job in Guangdong and returned to Guangxi with dreams of making short videos. His fashion creations, made entirely by hand using materials from woven bags to old lampshades, leaves, and branches, revealed his unique fashion sense.

In the vast fields, Lu Xianren showcased the "mod" of China's countryside to the world. In a recent interview, he said that as a new face on the international runway circuit, he represents a new force, a driving power, and new opportunities.

The growing popularity of short video content creators has thrust the likes of Lu Xianren to the fore, introducing a vibrant and colorful rural world that is not only rich but also culturally diverse to the international stage.
In recent years, with the acceleration of rural revitalization, a new generation of young people's innovative ideas has flocked to the countryside, injecting fresh energy and vitality into rural development. Their new ideas and technologies have further boosted the momentum of rural revitalization.

The Global Times learned from the China Agricultural University that the school established its first "science and technology backyard" in Quzhou county, North China's Hebei Province, in 2009, and the project has expanded nationwide, seeing the establishment of 139 courtyards across 91 counties in 24 provinces. These have not only solved practical agricultural problems but also cultivated a group of idealistic and capable agricultural science and technology talents.

In Xihuai village, Tongzhou district, in the suburbs of Beijing, a new variety of ice cream-flavored radish was introduced through the "science and technology backyard," enhancing the market competitiveness of local agricultural products. Students also teach farmers how to use online platforms to sell products, opening up new channels of income.

In Gusheng village, Dali of Southwest China's Yunnan Province, the focus was on the environmental protection of Erhai Lake and green agriculture. Students worked daily with villagers to test water quality and explore sustainable development models.

Hao Jiaxuan, a graduate student from the China Agricultural University stationed in Gusheng village, shared with the Global Times that initially, it was not easy to join the villagers' tables. However, through continuous communication, they became friends.

Hao and his team have provided the locals with healthier and more environmentally friendly dietary suggestions related to Erhai Lake. The "science and technology backyard" there also organized various training programs according to the actual needs of the villagers, including water saving, hydration and nutrition knowledge popularization, and waste management.

The influence of the "science and technology backyard" has crossed national borders and extended to international cooperation projects. A student from Burkina Faso who studied at the Sino-African Science and Technology Courtyard in Quzhou county, Hebei Province, for example, learned the entire process of growing grains, from seed selection to plowing and fertilizing. After returning home, he applied these techniques, doubling millet yields.

In recent years, more and more young people have been pouring into underdeveloped areas of China, venturing into rural communities, becoming a new force in the process of rural revitalization. Their arrival not only injects vitality into rural areas previously plagued by the issue of workforce flight, but also helps young people to "remember their hometowns." Those who choose to work and develop in rural areas grow in their roles, finding a sense of belonging and achievement.

Indeed, every innovative step on this vibrant land is a testament to the rhythm of the Chinese path to Modernization. This is not just a story of rural revitalization but also about a nation keeping pace with the times, drawing its grand blueprint in the process of national inheritance. This land reflects the soul of modern China - a magnificent panorama of a nation forging ahead in pursuit of its dreams through down-to-earth work.

Central Asian experts consider China a trustworthy strategic partner, expecting deeper cooperation

Experts from Central Asian countries emphasized the importance of prioritizing the strategic partnership with China at a meeting held in Beijing on Thursday.

The expansion of cross-border transport corridors can bring enormous opportunities and contribute to the economic recovery of countries in the region, they said at the China-Central Asia Economic and Trade Governance Dialogue.

The dialogue attracted more than 10 experts and scholars from China and Central Asian countries, who jointly explored how regional economic and trade cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) could move toward more sustainable development.

Afzal Askarovich Artikov, chief researcher at the Center for Economic Research and Reform under the Administration of the President of Uzbekistan, stated that the countries in Central Asia are China's tested partners and are willing to engage in sustainable dialogue with China, which is also in the interests of the people of the region.

"We should establish a closer China-Central Asia community with a shared destiny, ensure the security of transportation corridors and important strategic passages, establish long-term economic and trade cooperation plans, and enhance exchanges between think tanks," he said.

It is necessary to promote regional cooperation mechanisms, and there is also widespread anticipation for new economic dialogue platforms, he noted, adding that it is entirely possible for China-Central Asia trade volume to double by the end of 2030.

Artikov specifically mentioned the anticipation for the early completion of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway.

In September 2022, China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation on the Kyrgyz section of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway, making significant headway in the construction of a transport corridor in the Eurasian continent, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Meanwhile, the China-Europe freight trains through Central Asia, the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Frontier Cooperation Center, and the China-Kazakhstan International Logistics Base in the eastern Chinese port of Lianyungang have all helped open the door to global markets for Central Asian countries.

The projects have not only promoted commercial activities among the six countries, but also brought people living in the region closer through cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

Zhang Jianping, senior researcher ofthe Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, stated that China's free trade pilot zones, such as the Xinjiang Pilot Free Trade Zone and the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Frontier Cooperation Center, should be utilized to leverage the effects of capacity, capital, and talent aggregation.

Over the past 10 years since the proposal of the BRI, the Horgos Port has been integrated into the core area of the Silk Road Economic Belt, continuously enhancing its level of openness, and expanding economic and trade cooperation with countries and regions along the BRI.

As the first cross-border economic and trade cooperation zone established by China with other countries, the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Frontier Cooperation Center has attracted nearly 30 key projects in areas such as star-rated hotels, catering and entertainment, commercial facilities, and financial services, with over 3,500 registered merchants. It has become an important platform for economic and trade exchanges and cultural exchanges between China and Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan and China officially implemented a visa-free policy on October 10, and the flow of people at the center continues to rise.

Zhang also emphasized that the potential for economic and trade cooperation between China and Central Asian countries has not been fully tapped. The five Central Asian countries and China can effectively improve the business environment and enhance the level of free trade by promoting and integrating with each other under the BRI framework

Yersultan Zhanseitov, head of the Chinese and Asian Studies Program at the Institute of World Economics and Politics, Kazakhstan, said he values the trans-Caspian international transportation corridor and the visa-free policy between China and Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has not seen the same level of development speed and scale with any other country as it has with China, he noted.

According to an official announcement made in October at the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, China will participate in the construction of the trans-Caspian international transportation corridor, and collaborate on a new logistics corridor across the Eurasian continent linked by direct railway and road transportation.

Zhanseitov said he expects reinvigoration of the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Frontier Cooperation Center following the pandemic, as it is China's gateway to the five Central Asian countries.

Li Jinfeng, executive director of the SCO Research Center and deputy secretary-general of Council on China Russia Strategic Partnership of Coordination at Chinese Academy of Social Science, stated that China's engagement with Central Asian countries is not like that of Western countries as China always hopes to understand the real needs of Central Asian countries and consider what China can offer accordingly. This was also reflected in this year's China-Central Asia Summit in Xi'an.

Central Asia countries were among the first to sign up to the BRI and they have been early beneficiaries of the initiative. This is because the BRI aligns with the development strategies of these five countries, such as Kazakhstan's "Bright Path" new economic policy, National Development Strategyof Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan's Revival of the Silk RoadStrategy, Li said.

The dialogue was hosted by the China Forum, Center for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University and the China Center for Contemporary World Studies.

Hungary: Hungarian art exhibition kicks off in Chongqing, builds cultural bridges

A total of 50 Hungarian art works were featured on Tuesday at the Chongqing Art Museum. The 2023 Western China Hungarian Cultural Festival and the 2nd Chongqing Urban Arts Festival with the theme "The Journey: Janos Fajo and The Pesti Workshop," were co-organized by the Chongqing Art Museum, the Liszt Institute Hungarian Cultural Center Beijing, the Consulate General of Hungary in Chongqing, and Central Bank of Hungary. 
Czégel Bálint, consul general of Hungary in Chongqing, Kohári Lajos, head of Department at the National Assembly of Hungary, Wang Rongfa, director of Chongqing Art Museum, and other guests attended the ceremony. 

This exhibition is to implement the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) development strategy, strengthen the mutual understanding of civilizations and people-to-people communication with Belt and Road countries, and enrich the series of exhibitions of the 2nd Chongqing Urban Arts Festival to meet the high-quality spiritual and cultural needs of the public. 

More than 50 pieces were put on display at the exhibition ranging from oil painting to printmaking and other media. The works are rich in context, experimental, and of high artistic value, reflecting the contemporary style and unique artistic characteristics of Hungarian contemporary painting.

The exhibition runs until November 17, according to official Wechat account of Liszt Institute Hungarian Cultural Center Beijing.

Witness to History: Young Chinese engineer committed to industrial transformation in Africa as BRI dedicated to continent’s development

Editor's Note:

At the core of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)'s success around the world are talented individuals who dedicate their skills to the betterment of humanity. Among this talented pool is Chinese engineer Cao Fengze, who works for a Chinese state-owned company investing infrastructure projects in Africa and holds a PhD in Civil Engineering from Tsinghua University.

Cao has been involved in multiple crucial hydropower projects in Zambia, Lesotho, and Tanzania. Through his first-hand observations and long-term interactions with local people, Cao keenly points out that many African nations are currently trapped in a development dilemma, primarily due to a lack of systematic public resources to serve rapidly growing populations and underpin development. China's efforts in African countries through the BRI aim to offer support that enables them to overcome the Malthusian trap by providing sustainable public goods.

This story is a part of the Global Times' series of "Witness to history," which features firsthand accounts from witnesses at the forefront of historic moments. From scholars to politicians and diplomats to ordinary citizens, their authentic reflections on the impact of historical moments help reveal a sound future for humanity through the solid steps forward taken in the past and the present.

When Cao Fengze received a phone call from the Global Times reporters, he was on site at the bustling and dusty construction site by the Kafue River, the longest river located entirely within the African nation measuring an impressive 1,576 kilometers. About 90 kilometers south of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, along the Kafue River, Cao is stationed at the Kafue Gorge Lower (KGL) hydroelectric power station, which is considered Zambia's Three Gorges Project and the first large-scale hydroelectric power station developed in the country in the last 40 years.

With steely determination, a hard hat and safety gear to boot, one would be hard pressed to imagine that Cao is indeed a graduate from China's prestigious Tsinghua University with a doctorate degree. His working environment is a marked departure from that chosen by his former classmates.

Witnessing and participating in a country's industrial transition and modernization efforts has reaffirmed Cao's faith in choosing an extraordinary path. As millennial, he did not get a chance to see China's transformation into an industrialized powerhouse, but thanks to Belt and Road projects in Africa, he has a front row seat to the transformational process in the continent.

BRI projects across Africa have wide-reaching effects for common citizens and entire countries alike. As the assistant director at the African branch of Power China's subsidiary Sinohydro Bureau 11 Co, he has witnessed not only how a Chinese-funded hydropower plant has benefited a small merchant, a village, but also how China empowers African countries with robust and sustainable development systems by providing them with accessible and affordable public goods.

Escape development dilemma

The story of a small trader in the Zambian capital of Lusaka highlight's Cao's own journey along with the BRI in Africa. Thompson, the owner of a grocery store in Lusaka, makes a living by producing and selling grain products and condiments like peanut butter and hazelnut spread. Before the completion of the KGL hydroelectric power station, exorbitant electricity prices and an unstable voltage coupled with frequent power outages meant that small business owners like Thomson suffered greatly.

Apart from the high cost of electricity being passed on to his customers therefore limiting his sales, small businesses like Thomson's would often be disconnected from the power grid, as they were believed to not have an emergent need for electricity. In March this year, however, things changed for the better after the completion of the KGL hydroelectric power station, which, at full capacity, increased Zambia's overall power generation by 38 percent. The increase means that nearly four out of every 10 people now have access to electricity thanks to the KGL station, and power outages in the capital are increasingly rare.

Cheap and stable electricity has reduced Thompson's overhead costs, which means cheaper product prices, increased sales, and a fuller wallet. Thompson regularly donates his food to needy children in Lusaka. The donated cereal is pre-cooked and specially crushed into fine powder, which can be brewed and consumed by adding clean water, considering that even a kettle is a luxury for the needy children in Zambia.

Thompson believes that food donation cannot fundamentally solve the root problem in his country because the local food production will likely never catch up with the rate of population growth - a typical manifestation of the Malthusian trap.

Thompson's story strengthened Cao's resolve to devote himself to breaking the Malthusian trap in Africa. "You could say Malthusianism is outdated in Western countries, but it is still an obvious problem in most African countries. Their population growth outpaces agricultural production and economic development, causing poverty and depopulation," Cao told the Global Times.
"The fertility rate in some major African countries is above 5, and a lack of female empowerment. If the effects of Malthusianism spill over, developed countries in the world could even be profoundly affected by this massive population change," Cao warned.

"The underlying logic of what we are fighting for here is to support their economic development to outpace the population growth, and we hope to accelerate this process. We can achieve this by supporting basic infrastructure development. As we all know, electricity is the cornerstone of modern life, as it is essential for the development of industries and communication services. Only then can private enterprises, local entrepreneurs, and traders come alive and fully contribute to a revitalized economy. Otherwise, the chances of breaking the cycle of poverty are very slim," Cao explained.

Zambia is far from the only African country faced with a power supply deficit. Cao recalled witnessing power outages in the East African country of Tanzania while working on another hydroelectric project. Comically, Cao was midway through a shower when the power went out, turning off the water, leaving the engineer lathered confusion. Though this is a funny personal memory, the experience encapsulates the challenges faced by ordinary people across the continent.

Currently, the total installed capacity of the KGL station project is 750 megawatts. According to an evaluation by Zambia's state-owned electricity company, ZESCO Limited, which commissioned the construction of the plant, the station can support Zambia's industrial development for the next 70, 80, or even 100 years.

Providing more opportunities

In Zambia, highly skilled technicians and workers are in extreme short supply. To cultivate qualified personnel to support the projects, the Chinese contractor has established a government-approved training school in Zambia. Students can receive free education and accommodation complete with a living allowance. The school offers six sorted professional training courses such as civil engineering, mechanical maintenance, welding, and surveying. At least 300 skilled talents in the field of infrastructure construction have successfully graduated from training center, and a large number of them chose to join Chinese-built hydroelectric power stations.

"If we truly bring tangible benefits to the local people and empower them in development, why would they be in opposition?" Cao questioned when he was asked about his take on baseless accusations made by some foreign media sources about local people protesting against Chinese BRI projects.

He noted that Chinese contractors also build schools, hospitals, and training centers near and around the projects to fulfill their social responsibilities as contractually agreed upon.

"But it's not like we are building charity or aid projects as many people image. On the contrary, these are standard profit-making projects based on the principle of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation," Cao stressed.

He believes the so-called claims of the Chinese debt trap and neocolonialism are "ridiculous," because "there are no creditors who don't want their debts to be paid on time."

Devoted in a foreign land
Engineer's passion and zeal were evident when he mentioned the progress that he has made each day. He said he felt a great sense of fulfillment when he knew his expertise was contributing to the development of a faraway land. But "extraordinary romance often implies extraordinary hardships," as he said. While working in remote locations is particularly challenging for his counterparts, the strict control of engineering quality is often the most challenging for him.

Along with major work-related concerns come more trivial administrative concerns for a senior engineer like Cao, including cleanliness in the warehouse, dealing with blocked drainage pipes, reprimanding a drunken night-shift driver, and week-long debates on matters as small yet important as the thickness of a concrete reinforcement cover. In the face of the completed dam and the future promise it holds, Cao often thinks back to his hometown, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, the industrial cradle of new China.

Decades ago, the vast black soil in northeast China turned into the "granary of the north" because of countless idealistic young people who migrated there to reclaim the northern wilderness. Cao, who grew up there, understands that industrialization is a difficult process, and what is most needed in this process is people with steely determination.

"I hope I am also one of these people with determination and resilience," Cao said.

As African people in countries like Tanzania and Zambia enjoy clean energy, many may never know of the devotion of one young Chinese engineer, whose goal was to help in the revolutionary transformation of the continent. However, hydropower projects across Africa, while heralding the new era of growth and development of the continent, will stand as mute testament to the resilience of those who worked tirelessly to actualize their construction.

Japan's central bank raises interest rates, first time since 2007, to accommodate rising CPI, wages

Japan's central bank moved on Tuesday to raise the benchmark interest rate for the first time since 2007. The hike calls an end to the eight-year negative interest rate in Japan, which has been suffering from protracted deflation.

In a widely anticipated move, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) raised its short-term interest rates to around 0 percent to 0.1 percent from -0.1 percent, according to the bank's statement following a two-day policy meeting. 

The central bank also abandoned yield curve control (YCC), a policy which had been in place since 2016 that capped long-term interest rates around or even below zero.

In response to the adjustment, major stock indexes in Japan rallied on the Tuesday. The Nikkei 225 closed Tuesday, up 0.66 percent, while the Tokyo Stock Price Index rose by 1.06 percent.

The BOJ said that it assessed the "virtuous cycle" between wages and prices, realizing that the price stability target of 2 percent rise would be attained this year. 

The year-on-year rate of increase in the country's CPI is likely to come in at above 2 percent this year, the bank said.

The Japan's largest labor union organization, Rengo, announced Friday that it has reached an agreement for a 5.3-percent annual wage increase in spring wage negotiations, which is 1.5 percentage points higher than last year and the largest salary increase in 30 years.

As Japan's rising wages are expected to lead to positive growth in spending and consumer prices, it is necessary for tighten the country's monetary policy now, Zhao Qingming, a Beijing-based veteran financial analyst told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Overall, the impact on China is not expected to be significant as Japan's rate hike is relatively cautious, Zhao said.

Chen Zilei, director of the Research Center for Japanese Economics at Shanghai University of International Business and Economics, told the Global Times on Tuesday that Japan's rate hike would not significantly affect the Chinese economy. 

Chen dismissed concerns that the return of overseas money to Japan would produce a significant impact on China's economy.

The BOJ cautioned that it's not about to embark on aggressive rate hikes, saying that it "anticipates that accommodative financial conditions will be maintained for the time being."

Fitch Ratings said it expects the BOJ to raise the interest rates at a very gradual pace, possibly reaching 0.25 percent at the end of 2025, according to its Global Economic Outlook for March sent to the Global Times. The international rating agency anticipates the Japanese economy will grow by 0.6 percent in 2024.

Preparations underway for China's 2nd intl supply chain expo

An exhibition area for advanced manufacturing will be added to the second China International Supply Chain Expo (CISCE), aiming to boost new quality productive forces. So far, more than 160 enterprises from home and abroad have confirmed their participation in the expo, the Global Times learned on Friday.

The second CISCE is scheduled to be held from November 26 to 30 in Beijing, and preparatory work is already in full swing, said Ren Hongbin, chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), which is the organizer of the expo, on Friday evening at an event named "Networking Reception of the Second CISCE."

"After research, we decided to add an exhibition area for the advanced manufacturing chain. This is an important innovation of the second CISCE," Ren said.

In 2023, the first CISCE showcased five major supply chains: the intelligent vehicle chain, the green agriculture chain, the cleaner energy chain, the digital technology chain, and the healthy life chain.

According to Ren, the newly added advanced manufacturing chain exhibition area will focus on new quality productive forces and display the whole industrial chain in an all-round and multi-angle way, from front-end research and development (R&D), application of new materials and processing of key parts to intelligent manufacturing. Products such as industrial automation, robots, advanced equipment, high-end equipment and construction machinery will be displayed.

Participants at the Friday event said that the industrial chain and supply chain are the "blood vessel system" of economic development. Consolidating and strengthening global industrial chain and supply chain cooperation is in the interests of all parties, the Global Times learned.

Through exchanges by the upper, middle and lower reaches of the supply chain, and the integration of large, small and medium-sized enterprises, the CISCE can help enterprises find supply chain partners globally, and also help them to apply the latest scientific research achievements to all links of the industrial chain, Director General of CCPIT Academy Zhao Ping told the Global Times on Friday on the sidelines of the event.

"Therefore, all links of the supply chain - from R&D, production, distribution and logistics to consumption - can complement each other, and promote the high-quality development of the manufacturing industry," said Zhao.

The security, stability and smooth cooperation of the global supply chain is indeed the concern of the business communities of all countries, Lin Shunjie, chairman of the China International Exhibition Center Group, the co-organizer of the CISCE, told the Global Times on Friday.

"The supply chain expo, the first of its kind in the world, aims to provide cooperation opportunities between global enterprises and help enterprises develop partners alongside the supply chain," said Lin.

Many multinationals that did not attend the first CISCE expressed their willingness to attend the second edition this year. Some previous participants have asked to increase their exhibition area, Lin said.

"Apart from enterprises from the US and European countries, companies from Latin America, Japan and Southeast Asia are contacting us, hoping to attend the second CISCE," Lin noted, adding that last year during the first expo, US enterprises took up 45 percent of the exhibition area for overseas enterprises.

Ren also mentioned that executives of the world's top 500 companies such as Budweiser, Novo Nordisk, Procter & Gamble, HSBC and CMA CGM have expressed their desire to participate in the second CISCE.

But Lin also noted that since the exhibition area is limited, they will be strict in choosing participants. "We just started building a new convention complex to accommodate more enterprises," Lin added.

The first CISCE concluded in December 2023 with about 200 business deals and cooperation agreements signed, worth more than 150 billion yuan ($21 billion), the Global Times learned from CCPIT.

The first expo attracted 515 domestic and foreign exhibitors. Approximately 26 percent of the exhibitors were from overseas, representing 55 countries and regions. US and European firms accounted for 36 percent of overseas exhibitors.