Stable devt of China-Russia ties beneficial to world peace, prosperity: Global Times editorial

On May 16, Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is in China on a state visit, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The two heads of state jointly met the press, signed and issued the Joint Statement of the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation on Deepening the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination for the New Era in the Context of the 75th Anniversary of China-Russia Diplomatic Relations (hereinafter referred to as the "Statement"). Under the strategic guidance of the two leaders, China and Russia have consistently developed their bilateral relations based on the principles of non-alignment, non-confrontation, and not targeting any third party, setting an example of peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation between major powers. This not only aligns with the fundamental interests of both countries and their peoples but also contributes to regional and global peace, stability, and prosperity.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia. Summarizing the notable progress in China-Russia relations over the past 75 years, President Xi said that it is attributable to the two countries' commitment to five principles. First, China and Russia are committed to mutual respect as the fundamental principle of relations, and always render support for each other's core interests. Second, China and Russia are committed to win-win cooperation as the driving force of relations, and work to foster a new paradigm of mutual benefit. Third, China and Russia are committed to lasting friendship as the foundation of relations, and carry forward the torch of Sino-Russian friendship. Fourth, China and Russia are committed to strategic coordination as an underpinning of relations, and steer global governance in the right direction. Fifth, China and Russia are committed to fairness and justice as the purpose of relations, and dedicated to the political settlement of hotspots. These "five principles" set an exemplary model for relations between neighboring major powers and will continue to guide China-Russia relations toward new successes.

The relationship between China and Russia, two major powers, is unique in the history of modern international relations. The two countries are not military-political allies, but rather represent a new model of major power relations characterized by non-alignment, non-confrontation, and not targeting any third country. The development of their relationship has its own internal logic and driving force. It is not a threat to any country, nor is it subject to any interference or discord sown by any third party. This is a summary of the extraordinary 75-year development history of China-Russia relations. Both countries respect each other's national sovereignty, security, and development interests, as well as their own chosen development path, which is the "secret" to why their relationship has become a model for the development of partnerships between major powers and neighboring countries. As President Xi said, this is not only the correct way for China and Russia to get along, but also the direction that major-country relations should strive for in the 21st century.

The close cooperation between China and Russia is a driving force for stability in the international landscape. This year, Russia assumes the rotating presidency of the BRICS countries, and China will also take over the rotating presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization within the year. The two countries work together to promote regional stability and development, strengthen the alignment between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union, and jointly promote cooperation among the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the BRICS mechanism, and countries in the Global South. Both countries uphold multilateralism, oppose hegemony and unilateralism in international organizations such as the United Nations and the G20, effectively promoting the democratization and multipolarization of the global order, as well as firmly upholding international fairness and justice.

Currently, some countries are using "national security" as a pretext to promote deglobalization and group politics, kidnapping allies to push for "decoupling" and build "small yard, high fence." This has increased the complexity and uncertainty of regional and global security situations. As permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and Russia share similar security views and maintain effective strategic communication. They jointly oppose zero-sum games and Cold War mentality, group politics, confrontational blocs, dividing the world based on ideology and political systems, and confrontational policies and interference in other countries' internal affairs. This is a positive asset for the world. In the Statement, China and Russia propose that, given the current geopolitical context, it is necessary to explore the establishment of a sustainable security system in the Eurasian space based on the principles of equal and indivisible security, outlining a blueprint for achieving genuine regional common security.

In recent years, with Russia's focus on "turning to the East" in foreign economic cooperation, China-Russia economic and trade cooperation has developed rapidly. China has been Russia's largest trading partner for 13 consecutive years, accounting for 32 percent of Russia's foreign trade. Russia became China's fourth largest trading partner in 2023. These achievements are not easy and have been achieved by both countries overcoming various external challenges and unfavorable factors, highlighting the solid foundation of the China-Russia relationship. This year also marks the "China-Russia Years of Culture." The two countries and their people have a strong driving force to enhance mutual understanding and continue lasting friendship through deepening cultural exchanges.

A mountain is formed by accumulation of soil and an ocean is formed by accumulation of water. After 75 years of solid accumulation, lasting friendship and all-round cooperation between China and Russia provide a strong impetus for the two countries to forge ahead despite wind and rain. In the future, guided by head-of-state diplomacy, the two countries, standing at a new historical starting point, will jointly promote the all-round development of the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for the new era, create more benefits for their peoples and make a due contribution to global security and stability.

Scientific and technological exchange between China and US ‘not at a low point’: US scholar

The scientific and technological exchanges between China and the US are "not at a low point," and global universities will continue to increase personnel exchanges with China, according to officials from the University of Chicago.
Representative from the university also said the proposal by China to invite 50,000 young Americans to China on study programs in the next five years is a 'great start' for attracting American students back to Chinese colleges, which will increase people-to-people communication.
"It was relatively difficult for people to meet face to face between China and the US in the last five years, and I think that does have an impact on our ability to collaborate. But today our academics, our students and our faculty are very eager to return to China and rebuild those ties and look for opportunities for mutual cooperation," Katie Hrinyak, Associate Vice President, Global Initiatives and Strategy at the Chicago University told the Global Times in a recent interview. 
Hrinyak said that in this fall the university will have 26 students studying at the Beijing center, the first group of American students returning to China since 2019.
"We have a long history of exchange and collaboration across all disciplines with China and we've had many important relationships here, including with academic collaborators but also with alumni, parents, students and friends. We continue to welcome Chinese students to our campus and we continue to look for opportunities to bring our students here. Our Beijing Center and Hong Kong Campus, established in 2010 and 2018 respectively, have clear missions in fostering international engagement. They not only amplify the University of Chicago's global influence, but also serve as a strong signal of our commitment to deeper international cooperation, Hrinyak added.
Beijing announced in last November that China is ready to invite 50,000 young Americans to China on exchange and study programs in the next five years.
In March this year, 24 students from Lincoln High School and Steilacoom High School in the state of Washington, the US, embarked on an 11-day visit to China.
The Chicago University supports its students' career aspirations by facilitating short-term visits or summer programs in China for those seeking job opportunities. The programs offer exposure to Chinese industries through interactions with local businesses and alumni in China. The initiative to bring American students to China is a great start, she said, adding that starting with students is very important for "they are going to be our future."
"There is certainly a desire from US students to come back to China to reengage, and there's a huge pent-up demand for scholars and hospital administrators to come to Chicago and we engage in different aspects of medicine," said Michael Millis, Faculty Director, University of Chicago Center in Beijing. 
However, they admitted that level of engagement between China and the US is not as frequent ad before, which posts challenges for the personnel exchange. 
"In the past before the pandemic, there was a direct flight from Chicago to Beijing, but currently I still need to transfer in San Francisco," Hrinyak said. 
The scientific and technological exchanges between China and the US are "not in a low point," and the low point was a couple of years ago when essentially there was no travel, no exchanges of anything between US and China, Millis added.
But there are some barriers, such as shortage of funding and flights that make momentum harder than before, Millis said. 
The exchanges between the two countries are getting more frequently now. Airlines from China and the US are on a stable path to increase flights, recording the biggest jump since the outbreak of the pandemic, amid recent efforts by the Chinese and US governments to increase flights.
Starting on March 31, airlines from China and the US can operate a total of 100 scheduled round trips per week, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China on February 29.
"There are some real steps taken by them and commitments to try to break down the barriers that we talked about. I'm optimistic towards the future," Millis said. 

Decipher China's green success: competitiveness of Chinese EV industry comes from competition, not subsidies: analysts

Editor's Note:
As China's new-energy industries rise to global prominence, US officials have started a smear campaign based on false "overcapacity" claims. The rise of China's new-energy industries is due to innovation, rather than subsidies, and is beneficial for the world, instead of posing threats to other countries. To illustrate this, the Global Times is publishing a multi-part series under the theme of "New Energy, New Opportunities." This story focuses on how the Chinese electric vehicles (EV) industry draws its competitiveness from competition, debunking the groundless narrative that Chinese EV industry's strengths came from government subsidies.

At the recently concluded Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, which drew nearly 900,000 visitors over a 10-day event, Chinese EV brands once again dominated the headlines.

Some 28,000 foreigners were reportedly on the scene, with many taking profound interest in Chinese EV brands to study the models and try to decipher the reasons behind the popularity of Chinese brands.

On account of rising smears on China's green exports "overcapacity," Chinese analysts and industry insiders pointed out that the competitiveness of Chinese EV industry comes from fierce competition, the advantage of industrial cluster and entrepreneurship.

There is no "overcapacity," as the issue of industry capacity will be balanced by the market's invisible hand given the fierce competition existed in the Chinese market, the fact that Chinese automakers are not selling their EVs at prices lower than those billed at the home market and the global gap for more EVs to realize its green development goals, analysts noted.

Industrial cluster

There are several aspects of the strengths of the Chinese EV industries, which produce about 60 percent of the world's EVs, but none are associated with subsidies, analysts noted.

The rising momentum of Chinese EV is in part fueled by the country's investment into its surrounding industries, experts noted, with the number of companies spanning the whole EV industrial and supply chain totaling over one million.

Hefei, East China's Anhui Province, has in recent years built itself into an assembly center of NEVs, with a concentration of upper stream and lower stream suppliers providing the display panel, chips, batteries and artificial intelligence applications needed for building NEVs in a cost-effective way.

In Changzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province, the local industry is closely focused around the manufacturing of power batteries. In fact, the city has 31 out of 32 major segments in the making of batteries, which means 97 percent of the total supply chain spectrum resides in the city, according to a Xinhua News Agency report in April, citing the city government.

The city has more than 30 leading companies in national and global division of labor focused on the manufacturing of electrodes, separators and electrolytes - key parts in making batteries - with an annual industrial output of over 170 billion yuan ($24.02 billion).

Qin Lihong, co-founder of Chinese EV maker Nio, told the Global Times that China's advantage in talent in the EV space is another reason. Nio has factories in Hefei.

"To develop large number of applications used in EVs requires huge amount of man power and energy and China happens to be the place in the world with the most talents skilled in application research & development (R&D)," said Qin.

"To develop a particular type of motor may need 100,000 man hours, and the West's per unit cost of R&D in EV is not in the same league with that of China. The resources of EV R&D are agglomerating toward China," Qin said.

The allocation of resources has meant Chinese EV brands are better positioned to roll out their models in a cost competitive way that their global peers could not, Chinese analysts said.

The Chinese government provides no subsidies for the exports of EVs, rending the accusation of "subsidy" groundless, Cao Heping, an economist at Peking University, told the Global Times. "The accusation is further debunked as the world actually faces a shortage, rather than excess, of EVs in its green transition."

Cao said the West has no legal nor logical ground to ask China to downsize one of its globally competitive industries, which are the result of decades of strategic vision and investment and daring undertakings. "Resolving any global imbalance of resources can be only achieved through dialogue and governance, not a unilateral smear campaign."

As a matter of fact, global auto giant such as Volkswagen is increasing their investment in cities like Hefei, to hitch a ride on China's industrial cluster.

An opinion piece in the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung on April 23 pointed out that the West's complaints about China's "overcapacity" are both hypocritical and shortsighted and the Western industrialized countries would do better to face up to the competition, benefit from good and cheap products and push for equal market access in exchange for more Chinese green energy products.

The opinion piece analyzed related data, concluding that during the period from 2023 to March 2024, China's subsidies designated for industries related to strategic competitiveness stood at $42 billion, much lower than that of the US, which earmarked $222 billion of funds during the same period.

China's vehicle market got off to a good start in the first quarter of 2024, and NEV exports reached 307,000 units in the period, up 23.8 percent year-on-year, according to China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

In 2023, China's NEV exports totaled 1.2 million with an annual growth of 77.6 percent.

Relentless entrepreneurship

Chinese analysts pointed out that Chinese EV companies also draw their competitiveness from their relentless pursuit in innovation, despite the fact that the new-energy industry being a high-risk area, and contributed to the global transition toward green development by making NEVs cheaper and more popular around the world.

It is the entrepreneurial spirit that have formed a part of the engine driving the Chinese EV industry ahead, analysts said.

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun, in a recent interview with state broadcaster CCTV, revealed that the company has thrown in nearly half of its total value, at some $10 billion, into the EV-making adventure to make its SU7, only to bet on a 10 percent success rate.

Lü Xiang, research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday that even as Xiaomi's initial start with its SU7 is beyond expectation in terms of sales, there is no telling in the company's eventual success in the fiercely competitive domestic market.

With Xiaomi's entry into the EV game, companies such as Tesla and Li Auto has announced cut in their offerings.

Lei said he is not afraid of price wars and is prepared to take losses but aims to become the world's top five EV players in the long-run.

Mainland resumes Matsu tourism, approving imports from Taiwan island

The Chinese mainland will take the lead in resuming tourism for residents of East China's Fujian Province to visit Matsu, and will approve certain imports from the island of Taiwan, according to the authorities on Sunday. Experts believed that by upholding the 1992 Consensus and opposing "Taiwan independence," the mainland has sent "goodwill signals" to further promote cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation.

After the direct passenger sea routes between Pingtan, Fujian and the Taiwan island are resumed, the mainland will also resume group tours for Fujian residents to the island, according to Vice Minister of Culture and Tourism Rao Quan, during a meeting with a visiting Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) party delegation led by Fu Kun-chi, in Beijing, on Sunday.

 In August 2019, the mainland suspended issuing individual tourist travel permits for the island to residents in 47 mainland cities. 

 Also on Sunday, Zhao Zenglian, a deputy chief of the General Administration of Customs, met with Fu. Chinese mainland customs will approve the imports of agricultural and fishery products from the island of Taiwan - including pomelo - in accordance with mainland quarantine requirements and regulations,  Zhao announced. 

The 25-member KMT delegation arrived in Beijing on Friday evening and was scheduled to return to the island of Taiwan on Sunday.

These moves by the mainland including resuming tourism to Matsu are "goodwill signals," and more opening measures are expected to carry out in the future, to promote cross-Straits exchanges, cooperation and integrated development, by upholding the 1992 Consensus and opposing "Taiwan independence," Wang Jianmin, a senior cross-Straits expert at Minnan Normal University in Fujian, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The Ministry of Transport and the Civil Aviation Administration of China both announced on Sunday that they have urged the Taiwan authorities to resume direct cross-Straits sea passenger routes and expand resumption of direct cross-Straits flight destinations.

We hope that the Taiwan authorities will fully consider the demands of people and shipping companies on both sides of the Straits, and promptly resume direct cross-Straits sea routes, and restore the opening of direct flights between the island and 30 mainland destinations, Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said on Sunday.

Tang Yonghong, a professor from the Taiwan Research Center at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Sunday that the regions such as Matsu have a relatively sound political foundation for fostering economic exchanges. Opening travel to Matus is also part of the efforts to building a demonstration zone in Fujian for the integrated development across the Taiwan Straits.

Tang said that it's important to uphold the 1992 Consensus and oppose "Taiwan independence." Taiwan compatriots will benefit from cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation. However, anyone who supports "Taiwan independence" has no room and will be firmly opposed, according to Tang. 

Fujian previously heightened convenience for Taiwan compatriots holding travel permits regarding travel, finance, telecommunications and other areas.

 

Since the beginning of 2024, a total of 90,000 five-year travel permits have been issued to Taiwan compatriots, an increase of 56.4 percent year on year; and 11,000 single-entry travel permits have been issued, an increase of 200 percent from the same period in 2023, according to Zhu on April 24.

A pilot program for online applications and issuance of entry and exit documents has been launched across 20 mainland cities, including Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai, by China's National Immigration Administration, to further facilitate the exit-and-entry services. 

Starting from May 6, mainland residents above the age of 16 in these cities are allowed to apply for renewal and replacement of Taiwan travel permits through the national immigration administration's online platform, without the need to visit the immigration office in person, according to the immigration authorities on Sunday.

S.China's Guangdong faces continued heavy rainfall; flood relief efforts carried out effectively

The latest round of rainfall in southern China was forecast to peak on Thursday, with South China's Guangdong Province being the center of the heavy rainfall. Meanwhile, most regions in northern China are expected to see significant warming, with daytime temperatures reaching around 30 C in some places, according to China's National Meteorological Center.

The meteorological center continued to issue warnings for heavy rainfall and severe convective weather on Thursday. 

Multiple rounds of heavy rainfall have occurred in southern China in April, with above normal levels of accumulated precipitation during the same period. The precipitation in South China is more than twice the normal level for the same period recorded in previous years, making it the second-highest level since 1961, according to meteorological authorities.

Chinese authorities have strengthened flood relief efforts including dispatching relief supplies, relocating flood-affected residents, and enhancing monitoring, forecasting, and early warning systems in recent days to reduce risks and prevent secondary disasters.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the People's Armed Police Force have assisted in emergency rescue and disaster relief in Guangdong. As of 8 pm on Wednesday, a total of 3,928 residents had been relocated, said Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense, at Thursday's press briefing.

The Shaoguan detachment under the People's Armed Police deployed 300 soldiers to Jiangwan town, one of the most severely flood-affected areas in Guangdong. They marched for more than 30 hours to reach the town, as the region experienced heavy rainfall, and roads, communication lines, and electricity were cut off, leaving the town isolated, according to the Southern Theater Command of the PLA.

As of 7 pm on Wednesday, all the residents affected in Jiangwan town had all been transferred, as the region is expected to experience a new round of heavy rainfall to last until Friday, with a high risk of geological disasters, according to Guangdong authorities.

The Global Times has learned from the Shaoguan authorities that relevant local departments have been working around the clock in rescue and flood relief efforts.

Zheng Zhihai, chief forecaster at the National Climate Center said that the frequent rainfall in southern China is closely linked to the El Niño phenomenon. Since April, the strong subtropical high pressure in the western Pacific has been directing water vapor from the South China Sea and the Bay of Bengal toward southern China, according to the meteorological authorities on Wednesday.

Experts also reminded farmers to regularly clean ditches and drains, remove excess water from fields, and avoid conducting spring sowing during the period of heavy rainfall. "The impact of the round of heavy rainfall on rice planting in Guangdong is limited," Li Guoxiang, a researcher at the Rural Development Institute, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday.

After the heavy rain, it is important to promptly take measures such as replanting and other technical methods to reduce the impact. Also, the local farmers will strengthen pest and disease monitoring and adjust fertilization accordingly, said Li.

Record-high 500,000 runners participate in road races in one day, as ‘marathon frenzy’ sweeps China

On Sunday, the Chinese running community witnessed a near-crazy phenomenon with over 50 road marathon races and nearly 500,000 runners starting on the same day, which marked the highest number of marathon participants in Chinese history. 

Just a week prior on April 14, there were over 30 marathon races with nearly 300,000 runners, which set a new record. Just a week later, this record was surpassed.

What's more, the quality of these back-to-back "marathon weekends" did not seem to have been compromised. Alongside races like the Suzhou Marathon, Qingdao Marathon, and Nantong Marathon with 25,000 participants, there were also World Athletics Gold Label Road Races like the Shanghai Half Marathon. The enthusiasm of runners to participate in these events is a clear indication of the resurgence of marathon races.

According to The Paper, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Chinese Athletics Association Gao Shan stated that as of 2023, the number of certified races with over 800 participants has almost reached 90 percent of the number in 2019. The overall number of participants is also increasing, and their performance levels are improving.

The "2023 China Road Running Events Blue Book" published by the Chinese Athletics Association confirms that the average finish times for male and female marathon runners are 4:12:08 and 4:24:14, respectively, while the average finish time for a half marathon is 2:08:20.

Elite runners have been breaking records, with China’s top runner He Jie setting a new national men's marathon record of 2:06:57 at the Wuxi Marathon on March 24. This week, two elite runners also set new course records for the male and female categories at the Shanghai Half Marathon.

The breakthroughs of elite runners have led to an overall increase in speed, with 3423 runners breaking the three-hour mark at a recent race, ranking third globally in terms of the number of sub-three-hour finishers.

A seasoned runner Liu Juan described her participation in over a dozen races in 2024 as "crazy." She attributes her increased participation to the improved race environment and atmosphere, which has made her more willing to travel and participate in races across the country, as reported by The Paper.

Observers note that the frequent hosting of high-level marathons in China presents a "sweet dilemma" for runners and a competitive pressure for event organizers. It challenges them not only to attract runners but also to ensure the successful operation of the races. Many organizers have yet to meet top-tier standards, posing a test for the future development of marathons in China, said analysts.

In a recent scandal of a half marathon race on April 14, the winner He Jie and three African pace setters who appeared to finish as runners-up, have all been stripped of their trophies, medals and prize money, after public outrage was inflamed as footage showed that He won the race because the three African runners slowed down to let him cross the finish line first.

On Saturday, according to media reports, a trail running race in Zhaoqing, South China’s Guangdong Province, was hit by heavy rain and flash floods. Before the organizers called off the race, several participants were trapped and in danger. After the race, many participants questioned the organizers' decision-making and rescue capabilities.

American Gen-Zers embrace, promote friendship with Chinese counterparts

Editor's Note:

The youth are the vanguards of our time, showcasing boundless energy and vibrant personalities.

Gen-Zers not only represent the makers of the future but also serve as agents of change in the present. With an open mindset and an international outlook, they actively integrate into the currents of globalization, engaging in deep exchanges, and collaborating with youth from around the world to explore pathways and strategies to address global challenges.

The Global Times has launched the "Voice from Gen Z" series, which focuses on the proactive actions and innovative achievements of young people in areas such as global governance, cultural exchange, environmental protection, and technological innovation. Through this column, we aim to showcase the unique charm and future leadership of global Gen-Zers.
"I believe that by making the connections we made with youth around our age and around the world, we are going to be able to communicate better as the next generation, building the world up," Anna Colbaugh, an 11th-grade student at the Lincoln High School in Washington State, US, told the Global Times.

This 16-year-old student recently returned to the US with a firm belief in the betterment of China-US people-to-people friendship, after embarking on a trip to China as part of a cultural exchange program.

In March, Colbaugh, along with 23 other students from Lincoln High School and Steilacoom High School in Washington State, US, embarked on an 11-day visit to China. They were part of the group of Gen-Z "friendly ambassadors" invited by China under a program announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in November 2023. The program aims to invite 50,000 young Americans to China over a period of five years for exchanges and study.

Growing up in an era of rapid media development, young people, both in China and the US, face a flood of information at their fingertips. The opportunity to see the world with their own eyes is therefore even more precious.

Visiting a country with thousands of years of civilizational history was a valuable experience that changed the lives of these young Americans. They are eager to understand China, a country they may not have known much about or even held misconceptions about.

After gaining a more authentic, comprehensive, and multidimensional view of China, they appreciated, communicated, and built friendships with the young people of this country. They are also eager to inject the power of youth into the broad communication between the two peoples and the long-term development of the relationship between the two countries.

Desire to understand real China

"I chose to go on this trip to China because I wanted to learn more about the culture, and I knew that this trip would expand my knowledge of China," Colbaugh explained. Colbaugh said she did not know much about China before going on the trip other than the existing stereotypes.

Her trip to China gave her and other students a chance to learn about China's rich history and culture. They visited the Palace Museum and marveled at the beauty of the historic complex, climbing the Great Wall, and experiencing the grandeur of this world cultural heritage site.

"I visited a lot of places like Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, but one of the most memorable places I went to was the Wudang Mountains. I loved learning tai chi because I have always seen people do it and I was very interested and excited to learn it."

In the past, influenced by biased media coverage and politicians, many Americans saw a China that was not real. Now, young Americans who are actually coming to China are hoping to change that.

"Coming out of this trip I know a lot more about China and I now know that the things that people might say could be wrong. I can now share my experiences with people," Colbaugh said.

Similarly, Luke Kelly, a 17-year-old student from Steilacoom High School, shared his enthusiasm for the trip to China and the valuable lessons he learned from the experience. "Once I returned to the US, the first thing I did was tell all my family and friends; just called them, texted them, met up with them, and told them how great my trip was, how amazing China was, and how much I want to go back and bring them with me," he said.

For Kelly, who has never traveled outside of the US, he thought this tour "would be an amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I'd be able to experience a culture and history of somewhere that I've only ever heard and read about for myself."

This group of young Americans wanted to come to China to see the world in a new way, and many of them came to China with a long wish list: Experiencing Chinese history and culture, and buying traditional Chinese clothing. And when they set foot on this magical land, there were many surprises they did not expect.

"The scenery in China is breathtaking. It is gorgeous. There, they found a way to incorporate nature into their largest cities. They have trees and bushes and flowers flourishing everywhere," Kelly said.

In Kelly's opinion, China is a very progressive and flourishing country. "It is a very welcoming, diverse place that is very economically stable and friendly to foreigners."

Currently, Kelly is taking a Chinese early civilization class at his school. "So I can learn more and gain more knowledge and education about the place that I have visited and love so much," he said.

Friendship lasts forever

On March 18, at the first stop of their tour in Beijing, Tsinghua University High School, the American high school students carefully prepared to sing a Chinese song "On the Field of Hope," in which Colbaugh also participated.

Back in September 2015, during President Xi's visit to the US, he appreciated the Chinese song "On the Fields of Hope" and the English song "What a Wonderful World" jointly performed by the choir at Lincoln High School and the students of Affiliated High School of Fuzhou College of Education.

Nearly a decade on, the students who once sang "On the Field of Hope" have grown up. However, for students at Lincoln High School, this song remains familiar. As the melody of this song continues to be passed on, new chapters in the story of China-US friendship are constantly being written.

During a school exchange activity in Shenzhen, South China's Guangzhou Province, Kelly learned to play softball for the first time and was full of praise for the Chinese students who taught him the skill. That afternoon, he added 6 Shenzhen students as friends on WeChat.

These American Gen-Zers told the Global Times that the biggest takeaway from the trip to China was friendship. Although they come from different countries and different cultural backgrounds, they share common interests, similar experiences, and similar emotions. As long as the young people of both countries have the opportunity to interact, they can find a common language, break down barriers, and jointly build a vision for the future.

"I went to China to learn about the culture and make friends that I am still in contact with on WeChat. The focus of my trip was to build relationships not to focus on conflict. The people I met were friendly and welcoming," Colbaugh said.

On March 25, students from both countries gathered in Shenzhen for the "Youth Friendship Forest" to mark the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and the US. The students planted 45 trees, symbolizing "happiness and tranquility."

Colbaugh noted her expectation is for the young people to continue exchanges between China and the US, and create lifelong friendships.

"I hope we can bring back the relations and… carry on and encourage other people to go and do the same," Kelly said. "I believe that it will only go up from here," Kelly said.

China raises public awareness about preventing invasive species

China is emphasizing biosecurity as a crucial component of its national security system during the celebration of National Security Education Day that fell on Monday. Customs in numerous cities have launched a series of events to raise public awareness about preventing the spread of invasive species.

Customs in Lanzhou, Northwest China's Gansu Province, has carried out an event on Monday to guide the public to enhance their awareness of preventing invasive alien species through interactive sessions, according to local media reports. Customs is also popularizing knowledge of prohibited animals, plants, and their products through videos, brochures and posters.

According to reports, Beijing Customs has intercepted a total of 933 batches of prohibited imported animals, plants and their products in the first quarter of 2024, of which 198 were considered exotic species, and all of which have been strictly disposed of in a safe manner in accordance with the law. Customs offices in Changsha, Central China's Hunan Province, have seized 106 kinds of foreign pests from trade channels, 74 kinds of foreign species from travel and postal inspection and other channels in the first quarter of 2024.

Changsha Customs also found three batches of unapproved special items, 10 batches of imported vectorial organisms, and 11 kinds of live ants, totaling 151 pieces, seized from incoming mail on four consecutive occasions.

Those activities are in line with a one-year campaign to "punish the crime of illegally introducing invasive alien species" launched by the General Administration of Customs, together with the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, starting from September 2023.

Notably, China's General Administration of Customs on Saturday released the first public prosecution case regarding illegal introduction of an invasive alien species. It noted that the procuratorate in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province has filed an indictment against a man on suspicion of illegally bringing 2,015 Brazilian red-eared turtles into China.

Biological invasion is one of the major ecological problems facing the world. More than 660 invasive alien species have been recorded to have entered China, one of the severest levels globally, according to China Central Television.

The lack of awareness among the general public, academics and the government concerning invasive species has undermined evaluation of the national security risks they bring, Wei Sheng, a professor at the School of Public Health and Emergency Management from Southern University of Science and Technology, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

In recent years, some pet lovers in pursuit of the so-called novelty and curiosity have imported "exotic pets" from abroad through illegal means and channels. Invasive alien species that have been seized by Customs authorities include but not limited to lizards, spiders, snakes, and ants.

Customs in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province, reminded the public that the popular exotic pets in the market may be highly toxic or carry potential virus, causing unpredictable damage to our ecological environment.

From the whole legislative system, China lacks the legislative idea of preventing biological invasion in the field of ecological law, and should strengthen the scientific thinking of preventing the invasion of wild life in a comprehensive way, Cao Mingde, a professor of Environmental Law at the China University of Political Science and Law, told Legal Daily.

On Tuesday, a 14-minute video released by the National Health Commission introducing biosecurity highlighted the close link between a potential pandemic, biosecurity and the prevention of alien species. It said that when biosecurity risks caused by alien species prevail, it will have an impact on one country's public health, economic operation as well as social order and national security.

Xu Jianchu from the Kunming Institute of Botany at the Chinese Academy of Sciences told the Global Times that we should highlight that safeguarding biosecurity is a comprehensive system, which involves academic studies, systematic surveillance and public awareness.

In light of COVID-19 pandemic, World Health Organization also established the "X" pathogen to draw the attention of countries around the world to the unknown, great harm and high probability of the potential outbreak of infectious diseases, Wei told the Global Times.

Agreeing with Xu in response to a future pandemic, Wei said that the prevention and control of invasive alien species is by no means a department or a local matter, and it is necessary to promote departmental cooperation and inter-provincial linkage from the height of national security so as to ensure the long-term prevention and control work.