Global Times investment promotion event held in Beijing

China Association of Science and Technology System Reform and research fellow with China Science Center of International Eurasian Academy of Sciences reviewed the development experience of China's economy over the past 40 years and proposed three opinions based on the current situation in China.

Liu Quanhong, director of Industrial Economics and Technical Economics Institute of Chinese Academy of Macroeconomic Research, said that in order to develop new quality productive forces, it is necessary to innovate the industrial development model comprehensively. 

Peng Juan, chairperson of Women's Federation in Changsha, Central China's Hunan Province told the Global Times that the development of new quality productive forces cannot be achieved without the strength of women. According to Peng, the proportion of female talents in Changsha is now at 51.34 percent, and female scientific and technological workers account for 35 percent, and the net inflow rate of middle- and high-end talents to Changsha ranks among the top three in the country. 

Representatives from various cities across China also discussed their economic strength, resources, and investment promotion policies, and efforts to create a favorable business environment and achieve high-quality urban development. Cities such as Huaihua in Hunan Province, Jinan and Qingdao in East China's Shandong Province, Shishi in East China's Fujian Province, highlighted their strategic industries and development goals, inviting domestic and international investors to explore opportunities in their regions.

Suzhou Industrial Park, Lanzhou New Area, Gongshu district of Hangzhou, and Huadu district of Guangzhou also conducted investment promotion events during the conference.

Global demand for NEVs far exceeds current production capacity, Peruvian FM says, defying ‘overcapacity’ rhetoric

Peru and China are pursuing green transformation and high-quality development. In this regard, there are many opportunities for enhanced collaboration in the green economy, Peruvian Foreign Minister Javier González-Olaechea Franco told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.

The remarks came after his official visit to China from April 28 to 30 - his first visit to the country since he took office - with the clear objective of addressing with the Chinese government the challenges world peace faces. He also dealt with a wide variety of topics related to cooperation and investment in a significant number of priority sectors for Peru and of interest to China, the foreign minister said.

While speaking about the need for cooperation in the green sector, González-Olaechea responded to some "overcapacity" fallacies targeting China's new-energy vehicle (NEV) industry.

Chinese NEVs are setting trends that lead to the green transformation of Latin American countries. Regional countries such as Peru, Chile and Brazil have been among the top destination markets for Chinese NEVs.

During a meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and González-Olaechea in Beijing, the two sides agreed to deepen cooperation in fields such as green development, in addition to other sectors including infrastructure construction, the digital economy and health, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The Peruvian foreign minister also highlighted Peru's keen interest in Chinese NEVs. He told the Global Times that the reason for this interest is "quite simple."

Chinese NEVs have become a popular choice for many developing countries because of their cost-effectiveness and environmental friendliness, González-Olaechea said.

Responding to the "overcapacity" rhetoric, the Peruvian foreign minister said that "evidence shows that, despite the rapid growth of Chinese electric vehicle exports, there remains a consistent global demand that far exceeds current production capacity. Reality and potential must drive our decisions."

"In addition, let us remember that there is a consensus on climate change and the urgent need to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030," González-Olaechea said, adding that Peru commits its words and its policy to this global goal for the benefit of humanity.

China has been Peru's largest trading partner for nine consecutive years, and Peru is China's second-largest investment destination and fourth-largest trading partner in Latin America.

In the first quarter, bilateral trade between China and Peru reached 70.97 billion yuan ($9.82 billion), a year-on-year increase of 14.3 percent, with both imports and exports expanding, according to the data from China's General Administration of Customs.

In addition to traditional sectors, new energy offers potential for cooperation in sectors where both sides can further tap into the market for win-win outcomes, Chinese experts said.

Many developing countries in Latin America, including Peru, are embracing green development to a significant extent, comparable to many developed countries worldwide, Wang Youming, director of the Institute of Developing Countries at the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The demand for green transformation in the region aligns with the advantages that Chinese companies offer, not only in the NEV industry but also in the solar and wind power sectors, Wang said.

As Chinese companies expand their global presence with competitive products, Latin American countries could enhance their industry upgrades by deepening cooperation with Chinese investors in the new-energy sector, Wang said, noting that this collaboration could also reduce regional countries' heavy reliance on exporting raw materials for economic development.

Xi-Macron Pyrenees meeting adds momentum to relations

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Tarbes, Hautes-Pyrenees Department of France on Tuesday, as part of his state visit to the European country. Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan were welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, at the airport. 

Nearly 300 overseas Chinese from southern French cities such as Toulouse, Lyon and Cannes, holding Chinese and French national flags, welcomed Xi at Tarbes airport.

The Pyrenees is the birthplace of Macron's maternal grandmother, who was from the Pyrenean town of Bagnères-de-Bigorre. In his childhood, the French president commonly visited the town to see his grandmother.  

Xi and Macron - together with their wives - visited a mountain restaurant. Before lunch, they watched a traditional folk dance performance  and took a picture together, media reported.  

"Arranging a meeting in the Pyrenees shows that President Macron attaches great importance to the effect of head-of-state diplomacy on elevating China-France relations. He also hopes that his personal relationship will allow the two sides to discuss global governance issues, bilateral issues and the regional situation in a more relaxing manner," Dong Yifan, a research fellow at the Institute of European Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times. 

A new climax in high-level exchanges

The talks in the Pyrenees are reminiscent of the scenario in April 2023 when the Chinese and French top leaders met for informal talks in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province. The two leaders strolled through the Pine Garden close to Baiyun Mountain, chatting and stopping at times to enjoy the unique scenery of the southern Chinese garden. They had tea by the water, enjoying the view and discussing the past and present. Xi and Macron listened to the guqin (Chinese zither) melody "High Mountain and Flowing Water" at Baiyun Hall. Xi then invited Macron to dinner.

The similar interaction between the Chinese and French leaders can also date back to 2019 when in the French city of Nice in March, Macron received Xi at Villa Kerylos, a century-old house overlooking the Mediterranean and seen as a microcosm reflecting European civilization. 

Later that year, in November, President Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan met with Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron in the Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai. The two couples walked in the garden and enjoyed the unique night scape. 

Song Luzheng, a Chinese scholar residing in France and a research fellow at the China Institute of Fudan University, believes that arranging a meeting in the Pyrenees intends to show that the two leaders have broad visions and mind-sets to see things from a global perspective, as there is a Chinese saying, "stand tall and see far."

"Mutual trust and mutual understanding between leaders can help the two countries to face up to common challenges and solve problems," Song told the Global Times, adding that he sees the Pyrenees meeting between Xi and Macron as a display of high-level mutual trust between the two countries.

Keeping momentum

Xi and Macron held talks at the Elysee Palace on Monday. President Xi said that the two sides should stay committed to the spirit that guided the establishment of their diplomatic ties, namely, independence, mutual understanding, long-term vision and mutual benefit, and enrich it with new features of the new era.

The two sides should continue to understand each other, jointly promote harmonious coexistence in a colorful world, stick to taking a long view and work together for an equal and orderly multipolar world, he said.

China is willing to maintain strategic communication with France, respect each other's core interests, consolidate the strategic stability of bilateral relations, tap the vast potential of mutually beneficial cooperation and facilitate growth and balance in bilateral trade, Xi said.

Macron said that France and China, through mutual respect, a long-term perspective and strengthened cooperation, will play an important and positive role in addressing global challenges and opposing any logic of bloc confrontation.

France would like to have closer economic ties and multilateral communication and collaboration with China, and work for more outcomes in the France-China strategic partnership, he said.

At the joint meeting with the press with Macron after their talks, President Xi said that the two sides have agreed on consolidating the strategic stability of bilateral relations, exploring the great potential for mutually beneficial cooperation, accelerating people-to-people exchanges and building greater consensus on global cooperation.

Pierre Picquart, an expert in geopolitics and human geography from the University of Paris-VIII, told the Global Times that despite certain differences between China and France, maintaining high-level dialogue between the two sides is of paramount importance. 

"Preserving this high-level dialogue is essential to promoting cooperation on critical issues, thereby contributing to regional and global stability," said Picquart.

Xi left France and headed for Serbia on Tuesday evening local time.

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.

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.

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.

GT Voice: Does China’s economy need stronger stimulus to hit growth target?

Whether the Chinese economy needs a stronger stimulus to achieve its growth target this year has become a focus of attention for some Western media outlets, especially after the Government Work Report was submitted to the national legislature for deliberation on Tuesday.

With relatively weak fiscal stimulus, it will be challenging for the economy to meet its 2024 growth target of about 5 percent, a report from the Chinese edition of VOA said on Tuesday. The report noted that it remains uncertain whether future fiscal stimulus spending will be strong enough to overcome difficulties like "sluggish consumption, a property bubble and the local debt crisis."

According to the Government Work Report unveiled at the opening meeting of the second session of the 14th National People's Congress, the nation's proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy will continue in 2024, with enhanced consistency of the macro policy orientation. 

China has set a deficit-to-GDP ratio for this year at 3 percent, meaning that the deficit is expected to reach 4.06 trillion yuan ($560 billion), an increase of 180 billion yuan from the deficit target for 2023 set at the beginning of last year.

The Western media's conclusion that the 3 percent deficit-to-GDP ratio is relatively weak stimulus is actually a hint of Western pessimism about the Chinese economy. Usually, only greater economic challenges call for a larger-scale fiscal stimulus.

However, while the deficit-to-GDP ratio is an important indicator of a government's fiscal policy strength, it cannot fully represent China's fiscal expansion or stimulus. 

This year's deficit ratio target is slightly lower than the adjusted deficit ratio of 3.8 percent last year, caused by the issuance of an additional 1 trillion yuan in special-purpose treasury bonds. But it is arbitrary to simply view the fiscal support for the economy as inadequate, because there are other policy tools that can be used to support the economy.

A steady and appropriate deficit ratio is in line with the overall recovery of the economy, sending a positive signal to the outside world and showing confidence that China can handle problems at its own pace.

The Chinese economy is entering a critical period of transitioning toward high-quality development. During the process, it is inevitable for the economy to encounter problems and challenges, especially amid a complicated and volatile international environment. But that doesn't change China's long-term economic fundamentals, which remain resilient and are full of positive factors.

Last year, China's GDP grew 5.2 percent year-on-year, higher than the estimated global growth rate of about 3 percent, contributing more than 30 percent of the world's economic growth. Although some countries have been promoting a "decoupling" strategy to contain China's technological development, they cannot stop China's pace of technological innovation and industrial upgrading.

China is gradually transforming from a pattern of traditional manufacturing to high value-added, high-tech sectors, with the digital economy and green and low-carbon industries developing vigorously. In 2023, led by new-energy vehicles, China overtook Japan as the world's largest car exporter for the first time.

No matter how hard some Western media outlets play up the "China collapse" theory, the fact that the Chinese economy can maintain its recovery momentum and achieve its annual growth target despite negative factors at home and abroad is the best proof that its economic development remains stable and resilient.

In this context, simply measuring China's stimulus for economic growth in terms of the deficit ratio is clearly a misunderstanding of the Chinese economy. Whether it is fiscal policy, monetary policy or structural reform, the ultimate goal of policy measures is to support targeted economic transformation and effectively stabilize economic growth, rather than create extra risks with excessive stimulus.

Journey of two generations of US, China scholars in locating Chinese garden nurtures flower of friendship

One day in the 1950s, in the dimly lit hall of a museum in the US, young James Cahill saw the Zhi Garden Album for the first time.
The album from 17th-century China depicts a Chinese garden called Zhi with extraordinary realistic brushwork, which was uncommon in classical Chinese paintings. Almost every detail of the Zhi Garden was captured by the artist, revealing to Cahill an exquisite, yet unfamiliar Eastern-style beauty.

Cahill's eyes and heart were captured. This US student in Chinese art, who later became a famous art historian and one of the world's foremost scholars of Chinese painting, started his decades-long journey in search of the real Zhi Garden. For half a century, he visited China several times, and mentioned the Zhi Garden in his books and on many academic occasions, but never got concrete information about this mysterious garden.

Did this remote Chinese garden really exist, or was it just a Xanadu on paper? The question has long gnawed at Cahill's mind.

One summer day in 2010, on the other side of the globe, two Chinese students studying landscape architecture wrote an email to the then 84-year-old Cahill. This email, which shared the exciting news of the Zhi Garden's probable existence, was the very beginning of a beautiful story that saw Chinese and US scholars make joint efforts to discover and study the Zhi Garden, leading to their lasting friendship.

A dialogue across time and space

This 2010 email was sent by Liu Shanshan and Huang Xiao, who were then students of renowned Chinese professor of architecture Cao Xun.

In 2009, Cao came across the Zhi Garden Collection at the National Library of China, a book of poems and essays written by Wu Liang, a garden artist in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Through careful study, Cao became certain that Wu was the owner of the Zhi Garden, and the garden was most likely located in Wu's hometown in present-day Changzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province.

Under Cao's encouragement, Liu and Huang wrote an email to Cahill. They shared with Cahill that they might have found the owner and the possible location of the Zhi Garden, and asked him about the images of the Zhi Garden Album

Cahill's fast response surprised Liu and Huang. "We emailed him at around 10 pm Beijing time, and the next morning we found that he had replied," recalled Liu, who is now an associate professor at the Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture.

They soon felt Cahill's excitement about and his strong passion for the Zhi Garden. In the following days, they received a couple of Cahill's emails, which were "too many to reply to in time." Moreover, after learning that Liu and Huang were also interested in the Zhi Garden and were willing to engage in related studies on it, Cahill soon mailed them a big package from the US, which included a complete set of duplicates of the Zhi Garden Album, as well as some 400 pages of literature and two CDs containing images of paintings of gardens that Cahill had collected throughout the years.

What made Liu and Huang more surprising was that Cahill suggested writing a book with them, sharing insights from their studies on Chinese gardens including the Zhi Garden from the Eastern and Western perspectives, as well as art history and garden architecture.

This idea sounded like a Nobel Prize winner inviting university students to work together on a thesis. "We could hardly believe it," Liu told the Global Times. "Professor Cahill was a leading figure in the study of Chinese art, but we were just postgraduate students at that time. There was a big gap between us."

Cahill's trust and encouragement gave them courage. In the following year, the two sides exchanged more than 100 emails to discuss the book's contents and forms. In 2012, the Chinese edition of their book Garden Paintings in Old China was published, becoming an influential work among international scholars of Chinese art.

Cahill described the book as the result of "a dialogue across time and space." It was the fruit of a yearlong online collaboration between two generations of Chinese and US scholars specialized in different fields, echoed Liu.

In July 2013, Liu and Huang handed the book to Cahill in their first offline meeting at the latter's home in the US. At that time, Cahill was already suffering from cancer.

During their one-month stay in the US, Liu and Huang visited many museums and art galleries with the help of recommendations from Cahill, and saw part of the original copy of the Zhi Garden Album at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. They celebrated Cahill's 87th birthday with him, which was tragically the last birthday of his life.

Cahill passed away in February 2014. "Working with Liu and Huang, learning that the Zhi Garden had indeed existed, and writing a book together, brought such contentment and happiness to the last years of his life," Cahill's daughter, Sarah Cahill, told the Global Times via email.

Moving story behind pictures 

In April 2011, Liu and Huang found the specific location of the Zhi Garden based on historical materials and topographic maps. It had been turned into a commercial residential area in Changzhou, with a shopping mall downstairs.

They emailed the area's satellite imagery to Cahill, who immediately confirmed it as the original location of the Zhi Garden. Huang explained that Cahill had probably read the Zhi Garden Album hundreds of times, as he was very familiar with the garden's terrain and topography as depicted in the album. "So when he looked at the satellite imagery, it was as if he was looking at an old friend," said Huang, who is now an associate professor at the Beijing Forestry University.

The garden has been lost to centuries of change and urbanization. But fortunately, its beauties can be seen again today thanks to the unremitting efforts of many Chinese and foreign scholars. In 2013, a digital model of Zhiyuan was completed. In 2015, one year after Cahill had passed away, the Museum of Chinese Gardens and Landscape Architecture made an intricate model of the Zhi Garden, to serve as a representative example of the private gardens in the regions south of the Yangtze River during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Sarah visited the model in 2018 when attending a Zhi Garden-themed symposium in Beijing organized by Liu and Huang. "The model is miraculous; so detailed and lifelike, and truly expresses the beauty and perfect proportions of the original garden," praised Sarah.

Sarah voluntarily took over some follow-up work related to the Zhi Garden after Cahill's passing. Her father's love for Chinese gardens has deeply impressed and influenced her. "I have only been to one Chinese classical garden, but have long admired the beauty and ingenuity of Chinese gardens, from paintings and photographs," she told the Global Times. "The balance and harmony of humanity within nature makes Chinese gardens so perfect for reflection and inspiration."

The story does not end with the finding of the Zhi Garden's location and the departure of Cahill. In 2022, after years of studying the garden, Liu and Huang published their two books: The Zhi Garden AlbumA Portrait of Peach Blossom Spring and Rediscovering a Ming Dynasty Peach Blossom Spring: A Study on the Zhi Garden. In September 2023, at the 3rd Conference of the European Association for Asian Art and Archaeology (EAAA) in Slovenia, Liu and Huang shared the story of the Zhi Garden with participating global scholars.

The beautiful set of pictures in the Zhi Garden Album is like a dream, Katherine Anne Paul, Curator of Asian Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art, said at the conference. "I love the beautiful garden in the pictures, and I love the moving story behind the pictures and the garden more," she said with excitement.

Envoys of culture exchanges

Cahill's life was deeply connected with China.

After then US president Richard Nixon visited China in 1972, the country sent its first art and archaeology delegation to China the following year. As a member of the delegation, Cahill participated in the first-ever important cultural exchange between China and the US since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. In 1977, Cahill led an ancient Chinese painting delegation to China. 

In his lifetime, Cahill visited China for academic events and cultural exchanges many times, and established friendships with lots of Chinese scholars. He also helped many Chinese students.

"When Chinese publishers and publications paid Cahill for the manuscripts, he often asked me and Huang to give some of the money to the Chinese students who had [financial] difficulties," Liu said. "He was also pleased to write letters of recommendation for Chinese students and scholars who wished to go on academic visits to the US, helping them get some subsidies or grants."

Generous and warm-hearted Cahill was among the expanding pool of overseas scholars and ordinary people who are interested in Chinese culture and art, especially traditional Chinese garden art, and who are friendly to Chinese people. 

Liu said in 2024, she and Huang will cooperate with the California-based Huntington Library to hold an exhibition under the theme of Chinese gardens and plants, at the Chinese Garden (also known as or the Garden of Flowing Fragrance) of the library. The garden usually holds public activities related to Chinese culture, said Liu.

As an art form that represents Chinese cultural characteristics, and a current display and communication space of Chinese culture, the Chinese-style garden plays an important role in the cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries, Liu said.

"Today, there are more than 100 Chinese-style gardens outside China, and they offer global people [a platform] to enjoy Chinese garden culture and artistic life," she told the Global Times. "The gardens are hailed as envoys of culture exchanges."

The year of 2024 marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US. A pianist and radio host herself, Sarah is glad to see more people-to-people cultural exchanges between the US and China. She said that the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she is a faculty member, has a close relationship with the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

Sarah also feels fortunate to develop friendships with her father's good friends in China, including Liu and Huang. 

"It is so true that friendships and collegial relationships can strengthen and reinforce political relationships," she told the Global Times. "Music and art are of the best ways to bring us together!"

Chinese mainland issues sweeping plan to boost integrated development with Taiwan region

Chinese mainland authorities have released sweeping guidelines to support East China's Fujian Province in exploring new paths for cross-Straits integrated development, outlining a flurry of specific measures to boost economic and trade cooperation between Fujian and Taiwan region in a wide range of areas from services trade and small businesses to high-tech industrial clusters. 

Many Taiwan entrepreneurs on Tuesday hailed the new measures as concrete steps to help businesses from the island to further explore and expand in the mainland, stressing the cross-Straits integrated development is an irreversible trend. Some Taiwan entrepreneurs also expressed doubt about the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) willingness and ability to develop the regional economy. 

Analysts also said that the move fully demonstrated the mainland's goodwill in supporting Taiwan's regional economy and Taiwan compatriots' livelihoods, in stark contrast to the DPP authorities' secessionist rhetoric and actions, which run counter to the development interests of the region. More importantly, if the DPP authorities continue to pursue secessionist actions and jeopardize cross-Straits cooperation, the mainland will take firm actions in response, analysts noted.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said that after the mainland suspended preferential tariffs on 12 chemicals from Taiwan under the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), in response to the DPP authorities' restrictions on mainland exports, the DPP has not taken any effective measures to lift those restrictions and has instead tried political manipulation. 

Currently, relevant departments are studying to further suspend preferential tariffs and take other measures on fishery, machinery, auto parts, textile and other products in line with the ECFA, the MOFCOM said.

In a circular made public on Monday, the Ministry of Commerce, the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology outlined 14 measures in five economic and trade areas, including supporting Fujian's opening-up and cooperation with Taiwan, high-quality trade and integrated industrial development. 

Specifically, the circular said that Fujian will explore and establish an institutional system and regulatory model that is conducive to advancing cross-Straits integrated development. Efforts will be made to attract Taiwan petrochemical, textile, machinery, cosmetics and other industry projects to Fujian, and help them explore international markets under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation, or RCEP, a regional trade agreement among 15 Asia Pacific countries includes the ASEAN members, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

According to the guidelines, measures will be taken to support micro and small businesses from Taiwan to explore the mainland market. Efforts will also be made to support Taiwan businesses' in participating in the new industrialization process and guiding them to invest in advanced manufacturing and high-tech industries. Fujian will also leverage its advantages in the digital economy, integrated circuit (IC), new energy, lithium battery, petrochemical, textile and other sectors to build a Fujian-Taiwan industrial clusters with global competitiveness. Notably, Fujian will build a cross-Straits IC industrial cooperation pilot zone.

The guidelines come after the CPC Central Committee and the State Council announced in September 2023 that Fujian will be built into a demonstration zone for the integrated development across the Taiwan Straits, in a move aimed at deepening integrated development in all fields and advancing the peaceful reunification of the country. 

Coming as the DPP authorities on the island continue to hype secessionist rhetoric ahead of the election of regional leader, the concrete measures offered much-needed assurance for Taiwan businesses and boosted their confidence in future cross-Straits economic and trade cooperation despite noise from the DPP authorities and some in the West. 

Boosting confidence

"This new circular will be of great boost to [Taiwan's] future exchanges and development with Fujian and will support more Taiwan businesses to invest in Fujian," Lai Cheng-i, chairman of the General Chamber of Commerce of the Taiwan island, told the Global Times on Tuesday, noting that industrial cooperation in areas such as services and semiconductors will be boosted. 

Lai said that all businesses from around the world, including those from Taiwan region, seek to enter the mainland market given its massive size. "I think Taiwan's business community is looking forward to continued positive development across the Taiwan Straits. This is the general trend." 

Teng Tai-Hsien, secretary general of Straits Economic & Cultural Interchange Association, also said that Fujian has offered Taiwan compatriots equal treatment in both living and investing, which is "very attractive" to Taiwan compatriots. 

"I think the industrial integration and cooperation between Taiwan and Fujian will likely surpass other regions in the future, and the future prospects are promising," Teng told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Following the announcement of the establishment of Fujian as a demonstration zone for the integrated development across the Taiwan Straits, mainland authorities have taken a slew of measures to support that. In November, the Ministry of Public Security's exit and entry administration announced new entry-exit policies for Taiwan compatriots, including streamlining the application process for travel passes.

"With support from so many mainland government departments, these measures also demonstrate the mainland's unswerving efforts to promote the integrated development of cross-Straits economic and trade cooperation and its goodwill toward Taiwan compatriots," Wang Jianmin, a senior cross-Straits expert at Minnan Normal University in Fujian, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Wang said that in stark contrast to the mainland's goodwill, the DPP authorities have only been interfering, disrupting and undermining cross-Straits economic and trade cooperation, which will only squeeze the space for cross-Straits cooperation and directly harm the vital interests of Taiwan compatriots.

In addition to its secessionist words and deeds, the DPP authorities have been trying to cut cross-Straits economic and trade ties, while disregarding provisions in the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) between the mainland and the island. DPP authorities have imposed restrictions on more than 2,500 mainland products. In a firm response, the mainland suspended preferential tariffs under the ECFA on a dozen chemical products from Taiwan starting on January 1.

Analysts said the mainland has made it clear that it would firmly counter the DPP's actions that undermine cross-Straits cooperation and hurt the vital interests of Taiwan compatriots, while at the same time taken favorable policies to boost cross-Straits integrated development and support Taiwan compatriots.

"I think the mainland's policies fully reflect its goodwill toward Taiwan. They are not what some in Taiwan claim to be 'trade barriers' aimed at sanctioning Taiwan," Zhang Wensheng, deputy dean of the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. "The mainland has always maintained goodwill toward Taiwan compatriots and also hopes that Taiwan compatriots would treat Fujian as their home."

Airports in Xinjiang and Xizang see record transport volume last year

Major Chinese airports saw record transport resulting from rising demand in 2023, with airports in Xinjiang and Xizang in particular welcoming record volumes of passenger throughput.

Xinjiang Airport Group Co reported record high of passenger throughput of 40.61 million as of December 31, 2023, facilitating 490,000 takeoffs and landings. Annual passenger throughput and takeoffs and landings have returned to 108.2 percent and 113.2 percent of 2019 levels, respectively, the group said. 

Among the airports in Xinjiang, passenger throughput across nine airports in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region including Urumqi, Kashi, Korla and Aksu all exceeded that of 2019. Annual passenger throughput at Urumqi Diwopu International Airport exceeds the 25 million mark for the first time, reaching 25.08 million passengers.

In 2023, Xinjiang Airport Group launched a total of 451 domestic routes and 20 international routes.

Xizang Autonomous Region Administration of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) also reported a record high of 6.897 million passenger trips in 2023, representing growth of 106.1 percent over 2022, also marking a record high. Among the airports in Xizang, annual passenger throughput at Lhasa Gonggar International Airport reached 5.47 million, a year-on-year increase of 111.8 percent. Annual passenger throughput of Qamdo Bangda Airport reached 424,000, a year-on-year increase of 60 percent, the bureau said. 

Currently, there are 12 airlines operating in Xizang, with the flying footprint covering 169 routes across 74 cities.

The rapid recovery of aviation industry has provided a solid foundation greater airport activity, market watchers said. 

CAAC data showed that the scale of domestic route passenger traffic in 2023  exceeded  pre-epidemic levels, with an increase of 1.5 percent compared to 2019, and the fastest recovery among all types of transportation modes in China. 

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport reported a passenger turnover of 65 million in 2023, ranking first for domestic airports. In July alone, the airport handled 6.05 million passenger trips, becoming the first domestic airport to handle more than six million passengers in a single month since 2020.

In 2024, China's domestic passenger transport will continue to grow steadily, passenger volume on domestic routes is expected to reach 630 million throughout the year, exceeding 2019 levels by 7.7 percentage points, the CAAC said.

The CAAC predicted that China's international passenger traffic will continue to rebound, with the number of flights expected to reach 6,000 flights per week at the end of 2024, recovering to the 80 percent of levels seen before the epidemic. 

China's civil aviation will enter a new cycle of sustained, rapid and healthy development, as the country's transport sector returns to a period of natural growth, the CAAC said.