June 2019

China-US relations seek inspiration from the past

The year 2019 is special for China-US ties. On January 1, 1979, China and the US established formal diplomatic ties.

There is an old saying in China that “at 40, one should be no longer confused”. It means at 40, we can figure out many things. However, as US-China relations enter the 40th year, it seems far from being “no longer confused”. Over the past year, bilateral relations have seen crests and troughs. The trade war was like a raging fire. Voices like “decouple”, “new Cold War”, “Thucydides Trap” have become shriller. Both countries are facing a tough moment. Once again, Beijing and Washington need to determine the direction of their bilateral ties.

“Consider the past and you shall know the future” goes another saying in China. Reviewing the past helps us know the future. Looking back at the 40 years’ of China-US relationship, although bilateral ties have been choppy, there has been historic progress.

Forty years ago, the number of visits between the two states was only several thousand annually, but in 2017 it exceeded 5.3 million. Four decades ago, the bilateral trade volume stood at less than $2.5 billion. However, in 2017, it hit over $580 billion. Investment between the two nations increased from nearly zero in 1979 to over $230 billion in 2017. Over the 40 years, Beijing and Washington have cooperated bilaterally, regionally and internationally from solving regional issues to fighting terrorism, from dealing with international financial crisis to promoting global economic issues.

Over time, bilateral relations have also seen setbacks. There have been four incidents that have affected ties over decades. The first one took place between 1989 and 1991, when the US slapped sanctions on China, including the suspension of high-level contact and military communication between the two states. Afterwards, more than 20 nations followed the US to crack down on China. Hence, bilateral relations dropped to the lowest point since 1972. The crisis across the Taiwan Straits from 1995 to 1996 was the second one. In May 1995, the US government approved then Taiwan leader Lee Teng-hui’s visit to Cornell University in the US. To counter Taiwan independence forces, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launched military exercises and missile tests near Taiwan waters in July and August 1995 and March 1996. During the second exercise, Washington warships USS Independence and USS Nimitz sailed into Taiwan Straits. The third crisis was a missile attack on the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia by US-led NATO on May 7, 1999, triggering the Chinese people’s fury. China-US aircraft collision in 2001 was the fourth one in which a US Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane and a PLA Navy F-8 fighter collided killing Chinese pilot Wang Wei. The US plane landed at Lingshui airport on Hainan Island without China’s permission.

The four incidents had a huge impact on bilateral ties, bringing them to a tearing point. However, these crises prompted leaders of both countries to invest plenty of time and energy to address these issues by ramping up communication between the two governments and enhancing mutual understanding, restoring normalcy in ties.

Experience can offer lessons for fluctuating China-US relations.

First, both countries need to seek mutual interest. Positive China-US ties began with common geopolitical requirements. After the Cold War, both nations agreed to strengthen economic and trade cooperation as globalization dawned. Although the two countries are involved in a trade dispute, there is still room to expand economic and trade ties. There is much more to China-US ties than the trade dispute. Additionally, the two have consistently sought common interest in preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, dealing with financial crises and climate change. These have contributed to the development of relations.

Second, as ties are complicated and so are domestic realities, the heads of the two states should play a leading role in dealing with relations.

Third, the two governments are supposed to explore institutional links. China and the US are two great powers with diverse social systems, ideologies, cultures and traditions. It is normal that conflicts and problems between the two exist. The key is how to manage them, so that they do not hurt relations. Effective communication between the two governments is one way of coping with it.

Finally, social communication between the countries should be expanded.

Crises lead to erosion of Washington-Beijing ties, while tackling them not only controls them, but also enables both sides to become more familiar with each other and more aware of the intentions of both sides. With competitive relations, crises and controlling them may be a common course bilateral ties take. Therefore, we need to prepare mentally for such eventualities.

Chinese vice premier stresses high-quality Yangtze River Delta integration

Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng has urged efforts to push forward Yangtze River Delta integration, focusing on integrated and high-quality development.

While promoting regional integration of the Yangtze River Delta, efforts should be taken to break new ground in opening up, said Han, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, at a meeting Monday in Shanghai.

Han stressed institutional innovation to promote high-level opening up and reform, sharpening the region’s competitive edge in international cooperation.

He underlined efforts to accelerate new area building of the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone, optimize institutions and mechanisms to stimulate innovation among market entities, make breakthroughs in some key and core technologies, and enhance the transformation of scientific and technological achievements.

Han also called for building an integrated transport system and prioritizing environmental protection and green development.

China has made the regional integration of the Yangtze River Delta a national strategy. The area covers Shanghai and the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui.

The delta region takes up only one twenty-sixth of China’s territory and one-sixth of its population but creates almost one-fourth of the country’s gross domestic product.

China-Russia relations transcend geopolitics

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Russia Wednesday for a state visit. China and Russia agreed to upgrade their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era. This is a major event in China-Russia relations. During Xi’s trip, the two countries are expected to reach achievements in expanding mutual cooperation.

China-Russia relations have long been a hot topic in Western public opinion. Certain Western media analyzed this visit in the context of the China-US trade war, claiming that Beijing and Moscow intend to join forces against the US.

However, not long ago when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Western media outlets were suggesting a marked improvement in US-Russia relations and the possibility of it driving a wedge between China and Russia.

Such perspectives on China-Russia relations are somewhat biased. The reality is that internal motivations for improving China-Russia relations are increasingly strong, and already far exceed any influences from the external situation.

Objectively, China-Russia ties have gone far beyond the impact of the triangle effect in the conventional sense. In other words, regardless of the state of China-US relations or US-Russia relations, China-Russia relations will continue to grow closer.

The improving strategic partnership between China and Russia has already brought comprehensive benefits to both countries and has become a common strategic asset. China and Russia are two huge neighboring nations. Close cooperation has replaced tensions over defense and is of essential importance to both countries, becoming a strategic benefit shared by both sides.

This relationship also strengthens their respective status on the international stage and provides basic support for the diplomacy of both countries. These are not short-term diplomatic conditions, but have already been normalized for the two countries.

With growing China-Russia economic cooperation and personnel exchanges, the chances of disputes at the grassroots level are increasing simultaneously. For example, there has been controversy over a Chinese-funded bottling plant near Lake Baikal, China’s agricultural companies renting land in Russia’s Far East, and Russia’s management of Chinese vendors.

However, due to the strong strategic relationship between China and Russia, these disputes were based on specific cases, and did not ignite fierce nationalist sentiment.

China and Russia have a similar strategic understanding of the world, share many common interests and are complementary to each other. Thus there is much room to expand cooperation. In 2018, China-Russia trade volume surpassed $100 billion. Crude oil and natural gas pipelines connect the two countries, and the cross-border China-Russia railway bridge across the Heilongjiang River, known as the Amur River in Russia, links them both. These provide new starting points for their expanded cooperation and exchanges.

Redefined soon after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, China-Russia relations today are strong. The two large neighboring countries can resolve border disputes peacefully, consolidate strategic mutual trust, maintain the stable development of bilateral relations and forge a “partnership rather than alliance.” This is praiseworthy in the current world.

Western opinion should not always regard China-Russia relations geopolitically and ignore the most precious thing in their ties. Starting from the two leaders’ firm political will, the stable China-Russia strategic relationship today is deeply rooted in the two countries’ national interests.

Technological security management list system is a move to counter US suppression

China’s National Development and Reform Commission is mulling over establishing a national technological security management list system, Xinhua reported. The detailed measures will be unveiled in the near future.

This plan is clearly related to the recent announcement by the Ministry of Commerce of a non-reliable entity list. It not only is an initiative for China to strengthen its long-term institutional construction of economic security, but also has practical significance for countering the US technical restrictions and supply cut-off to some Chinese high-tech enterprises.

Although details have not yet been released, the act can be expected to protect Chinese high-tech enterprises and will provide the legal basis for technology exports management. Since 2018, the US has repeatedly drawn on its domestic law to exert pressure on Chinese high-tech enterprises. China’s countermeasures against the US require more legal weapons.

China has some relevant laws and regulations, such as the National Security Law, but the enforcement was relatively weak in the past. Establishing a national technological security management list system not only helps refine relevant regulations, but also strengthens the implementation.

The industrial structure of today’s world is a complex supply chain system. The US does control high-end technology in many fields, but China is the world’s largest manufacturing base, which has mastered and innovated various practical technologies. The global supply chain cannot operate without China. China is capable of impacting the US supply chain through certain technical controls.

China recently indicated a probable cut-off of rare-earth products to the US. Although the US may take various measures to alleviate such a shock, it will be messy. China not only is the world’s largest producer and exporter of rare earths, but also masters rare-earth refining technology ahead of the world.

The US claims that some foreign-funded enterprises will leave China and move to Southeast Asian countries, an oversimplified view. Making Southeast Asian countries the US barrier to contain China is against the will of those countries. It is not only technically difficult, but will never be allowed by China. China has the sufficient capacity and means to upset such plan of the US. China will establish a non-reliable entity list and a national technological security management list system, but China will not abuse them to arbitrarily suppress cooperative foreign companies. China cherishes the environment provided by reform and opening-up and protects the interests of all enterprises cooperating normally with China. China’s newly established mechanisms will be strictly limited to safeguarding China’s national security. Only foreign companies that have harmed China’s high-tech enterprise security and national security by actual actions will be the targets.

Some may think that such regulations create ambiguity and leave space for “selective law enforcement.” There are vague areas in all regulations, and any country’s judicial machine can selectively enforce laws. But has China “selectively” punished a single foreign company in all these years? It is the US that has been providing the most obvious examples of unfair and selective law enforcement.

It has been observed that US judicial tools are arbitrarily used to maintain its global hegemony and implement various long-arm jurisdictions. The US national security and hegemony are equated. China has neither such ambitions nor the willingness to abuse long-arm jurisdiction. China’s national security is in line with the understanding of all countries. The world should now guard against the US, the country which recklessly disrupts the global supply chain, rather than China, which has to adopt strategic defenses and carry out some key counterattacks.

Lu Han in the TV series Fighter of the Destiny Photos: IC

“Most of the roles she (Guan) played were rebellious girls. And her acting is poor,” a fan of the volleyball surnamed Fang told the Global Times on Monday, saying that she did not think Guan fit Hui’s image, which represents the inspiring and energetic team spirit.

Echoing Fang, floods of netizens said they would not go to the cinema to watch the movie if Guan plays Hui. They even said that Hui should portray herself in the film.

Some also urged Guan to go to the team training base to receive professional training as a volleyball player before playing the role.

Guan once played a talented dancer in a drama. However, netizens said her dancing looked like that she was stretching noodles, which they thought could mean she did not prepare well for that role.

Hui played for the national women’s volleyball team from 2007 to 2018. She won the 2012 Summer Olympics Best Server award and was part of the team that won gold at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

The film would reportedly start with the scene that Hui sealed the victory for the team in the final minutes of the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. It is scheduled to show on the Lunar New Year’s Day (January 25) in 2020, the film’s official account said on Sina Weibo in April.

Shi Wenxue, a Beijing-based film critic, said it was “understandable” that netizens put forward much request on actors and actresses who would star in the film given Chinese people’s cherish on the “women’s volleyball spirit.”

“China is in a complex worldwide surroundings at current, the legendary story of the Chinese female volleyball team could bring nationals self-confidence and ambition to overcome international difficulties,” Shi told the Global Times on Monday, noting that’s why the public urges the actors and actress with more matured acting skills and inspiring experiences to act the sports players.

Russia-China trade, technological cooperation enjoys sound momentum: minister

There will be a rosy future for trade and technological cooperation between Russia and China, Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov has said.

In the face of global market volatility and rising protectionism, one of the most important tasks for Russia and China is to increase the stability of their trade and economic relations, Manturov told Xinhua in a recent interview.

China remained Russia’s top trading partner and their two-way trade hit a record high of over 100 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, he said.

Bilateral trade continued to grow in the first quarter of this year, he said, expecting further growth in Russian exports of agricultural products and foodstuffs to China.

The industrial and technological cooperation is multifaceted and the partnership in civil aviation, including the joint development of the wide-body long-haul airliner CR929, is an important aspect, said Manturov.

The CR929 program is at the design stage, when the main tasks are to select suppliers of systems and equipment and conclude agreements of intent with them, he said, adding that the prospective airliner will be “absolutely competitive” in the global market.

In addition to civil aviation, Manturov also sees “considerable prospects” in expanding partnership in the fields of medicine development and production, robotics as well as radio electronics.

There is still potential for cooperation in such traditional sectors as agriculture, food industry, timber industry, engineering, consumer goods production, metal, and construction materials, he added.

“It should be noted that the comprehensive development of strategic cooperation between Russia and China corresponds to the interests of both countries,” Manturov said.

Hollow claims by US on caring about Chinese human rights

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an announcement on Monday in which he accused China of “abusing human rights” and smeared China’s resolute measures to maintain national stability in the late 1980s. He also criticized China’s anti-terrorism and crime fighting measures in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The US has stepped up its attacks on China on human rights issues simply because Washington’s trade war with China is proving to be invalid. Now, the US has decided to impose more pressure on China over human rights issues.

In fact, the US has no credibility to hold the moral high ground. Its accusations are nothing but empty talk from a high-pitched speaker. Pompeo’s statements will not be echoed in Chinese society. Instead, they will reaffirm the Chinese public’s belief that the Trump administration is hostile to China, and a friendly US government to China is probably just pie in the sky.

Chinese are convinced that the US government is trying to deprive China of its continued development and gains for its own benefit. In their opinion, it is supposed to be a zero-sum relationship between the two nations. It is well recognized that the rights of Chinese are mostly rooted in sustained national stability and development. The destruction of China’s stability and development is the ultimate deprivation of the rights of Chinese. The current US government is becoming the top hijacker of Chinese human rights.

Chinese are no longer so naive as to regard the US as a haven, or an impetus, for Chinese human rights. It’s not 30 years ago. The Trump administration always threatens to “replace the labor force in China with that in the US,” or in Southeast Asia. They celebrate every sign that could be interpreted as economic downturn in China. Is that sincere compassion for Chinese human rights?

When Washington announced the start of the trade war, it didn’t care about any negative impact a trade war may have on China’s stockmarket or potential losses it may cause for Chinese shareholders. The US would rather see bigger losses on China to bring the country to its knees. The trade war launched by the US put the welfare of Chinese people at risk. Meanwhile, the same group of US politicians put on another face and made accusations about China’s human rights, as if they really care about individual rights of Chinese people.

Under the campaign of “America First,” the Trump administration has utilized its policies to eliminate the opportunity for social and economic development in many countries that will lead to the improvement of human rights. China is facing perhaps the most vicious and most hypocritical US government since its reform and opening-up.

In examining cases of China’s so-called human rights violations raised by some US politicians, it is obvious that those cases often relate to Chinese dissidents. The purpose is to stir up political division within China in order to split the country. In other words, they are advocating specific rights so that they can disrupt China without taking any responsibility.

It is well recognized that the US vigorously pursues its self-defined human rights philosophy for vicious political purposes. Chinese are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of not accepting human rights issues raised by the US and not accepting US values for obvious political purposes. The improvement of Chinese human rights hinges on China’s continued economic and social development. Chinese know where to go and how to go, and do not need “teachers” that have vicious intentions.

Mr Pompeo, if you really care about Chinese human rights, please order the US State Department to lift the newly-added visa restrictions for Chinese students. Those students have made a lot of preparations for studying abroad, which signifies an important step in their lives. Refusing their visas tramples their individual rights. Secretary Pompeo, who has the power to set visa policies, would make great contributions to Chinese rights if he could lift those visa restrictions.

In other words, the US offers its commiserations for so-called human rights violations in China, yet in actions, it has been trampling on China’s human rights for years. It is time for Mr Pompeo and his colleagues to stop the self-contradictory moves.

Chinese police bust drug factory inside abandoned petrol station

Police from North China’s Shanxi Province have busted a drug plant hidden inside an abandoned petrol station, seizing three suspects and 2.1 tonnes of raw materials for making drugs.

In January, police from Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi, got information about a drug gang and found a suspicious deserted gas station in Loufan County. They launched raids in late March.

Investigation showed that the three suspects illegally purchased large quantities of ephedra herbs, which is a major material for producing the methamphetamine, or “ice,” from north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and made drugs in Shanxi.

Many drug manufacturing equipment and around 278 grams of methamphetamines, 2.1 tonnes of solid raw materials, and 45 tonnes of residual solvents in the manufacture of drug substances were seized on the site.

China has taken a tough stance and stepped up efforts to crack down on drug crime.

Shanxi public security authorities said Tuesday that local police had seized more than 2.5 tonnes of drugs since a three-year anti-drug campaign was launched in May 2018.

China issues warning over traveling to US

One day after China issued a warning over studying in the US, two of the country’s key ministries on Tuesday issued another alert over travel to the US, the latest measure to counter the negative consequences Chinese people are facing after the escalation of the US-initiated trade war, which has spread beyond broad economic measures to target the technology, education and tourism sectors.

US law enforcement departments have been increasingly harassing Chinese nationals in the US by questioning them as they enter or exit the country, as well as talking to them in their homes, Chen Xiongfeng, deputy director-general of the Department of Consular Affairs of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a Tuesday press conference in Beijing.

Chen said that Chinese nationals traveling to the US and Chinese companies operating in the US should be on alert to their safety and take preventive measures, and should contact Chinese embassies if necessary.

Echoing Chen, Yu Jiannan, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, said that according to information from Chinese consulates, the rate of crime, including theft, has increased recently in the US, so Chinese nationals should be cautious when traveling to the US and take preventive measures and be alert to their surroundings.

Chen said the travel warning was issued as Chinese consulates across the US have received a lot of complaints from Chinese nationals after they were harassed by American law enforcement departments.

The travel warning is also out of concern over the safety of Chinese nationals, Yu said, noting that the US, despite its position as a major travel destination for Chinese tourists, often experiences incidents of violent crimes which could threaten the safety of Chinese nationals in the North American country.

Twelve people died during the recent tragedy in Virginia Beach on May 31 US time.

The number of Chinese tourists to the US fell 5.7 percent in 2018 to 2.9 million. It was the first time since 2003 that the number of Chinese travelers to the US slipped from the previous year, the Associated Press reported in May.

Yu said that roughly 150 million trips were made abroad in 2018. Tourists choose destinations based on their own will and on the situation of the destination. “Undoubtedly, the most important factor people consider is safety. Chinese tourists will surely make wise choices and cautiously evaluate their travel destinations,” said Yu.

Bai Ming, deputy director of the Ministry of Commerce’s International Market Research Institute, told the Global Times that the number of Chinese tourists to the US far outnumbered those traveling from the US to China, and the US tourism industry is heavily dependent on the rapidly increasing number of Chinese tourists, so a drop in the number of travelers will exert a heavy blow on relevant US industries.

It shows that the ongoing trade friction between the two countries has begun to hurt people-to-people exchanges in the two countries, Bai said.

An employee from a Shanghai-based travel agency, who asked for anonymity, told the Global Times that summer is the peak time for Chinese to travel to the US, but this year, more people have been consulting about safety and tightened visa policies in the US. Also, the number of tourists applying for US visas via their platform had also dropped drastically during this period of time.

Strong measures

China approves norovirus vaccine for clinical trial

Chinese authorities have greenlit a clinical trial for the world’s first tetravalent vaccine against norovirus, the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis.

The vaccine received the clinical research permit from the National Medical Products Administration on May 30, its developer, the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai (IPS) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, announced at a press conference Tuesday.

As the number one cause of acute viral gastroenteritis, the highly contagious and sometimes deadly norovirus infects about 685 million people worldwide annually and has increasingly emerged as a public health issue in China.

The vaccine, after four years of development, can theoretically prevent 80 to 90 percent of norovirus infections also known as “stomach flu,” said Huang Zhong, who leads the project at IPS.

The norovirus has long eluded the world’s vaccine development, as traditional strategies of inactivation and attenuation fail on the virus that cannot be cultured in vitro on a large scale. This was further complicated by the virus’ many genotypes, regional variations and its propensity to mutate, according to Huang.

The clinical trial is expected to last for five years before the vaccine can apply for new drug registration, which will benefit norovirus prevention in both China and abroad, said Tang Hong, researcher with the IPS.