Harbin, a city of cross-styles & friendship

Illustration:Chen Xia/GT

Illustration:Chen Xia/GT

Russian-style music, language and architecture are bringing together the peoples of China and Russia, who are trying to take bilateral cultural ties to new heights. As the year 2024 marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia, the two countries are holding a China-Russia Year of Culture. 

At 9 o’clock in the evening on Central Street, a major tourist area in Harbin, Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, an artist played a lively Russian-style tune during a performance. As I walked down the bustling street, I saw a variety of cultural activities taking place. This type of scene is very common in downtown Harbin, but was especially more so during my time there as the 8th China-Russia Expo was being held in the city.

Earlier in the morning, upon my arrival at the local train station, Ivan, a Moscow-born student studying cross-cultural communication at Heilongjiang University, told me that Harbin shows some Russian influence in its unique mixture of architecture, literature, music and culture. The St. Sophia Cathedral near Central Street is just one example, he was proud to say.

However, what he didn’t know was that this was not my first time to the city. Well known for its historical Russian cultural influence, Harbin is also famous for its role as an important gateway in China-Russia trade today.

For this 20-year-old student who was once afraid of studying overseas alone, this city was unique. “Studying in China was my first choice,” Ivan said.  

During my stay in the city, one of the most impressive individuals I came across was Denis Daňko, 45, the owner of Daňko Bakery responsible for providing desserts and snacks for the 8th China-Russia Expo. Originally from Khabarovsk in the Russian Far East region, he has been living in China for nearly 20 years. Daňko told me that the natural closeness between Chinese and Russian cultures was the reason he decided to settle in China.

In Daňko’s view, baking is not just a livelihood, but also a way to bring the people of China and Russia closer together. Many people in Harbin enjoy Russian bread, creating a warm and pleasant atmosphere that attracted Daňko and his family to put down roots here. “Harbin is my second hometown,” he said.

“Me and my wife are foreigners. However, our children were born in China, so they are just like ordinary Chinese people. From kindergarten and elementary school to future university, work and marriage, they will all be here. Harbin is our home,” Daňko said.

My third stop was the Harbin Institute of Technology. 

The university is well-known as a cornerstone of China-Russia cooperation in higher education, a connection that can be traced back to the mid-20th century. It was established by Russian professionals as a Russian-Chinese technical college to train personnel for the Chinese Eastern Railway, a major transport route in the Pacific region. 

For more than 70 years, the university has exemplified the strong friendship between the two nations, fostering close ties with leading Russian universities in education, science, technology and other fields. 

Language and education also bring the two peoples together. In recent years, China-Russia education cooperation has achieved fruitful results and is experiencing good momentum. To date, about 50,000 Chinese citizens have received a higher education in Russia. At the same time, 16,000 Russians are studying in China. It is expected that the number of Chinese students in Russia and Russian students in China will continue to grow.

During his state visit to China, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to the Harbin Institute of Technology, where he met with Chinese and Russian students and faculty. 

For students and teachers at one of China’s leading providers of higher education in technology and a major R&D and innovation center, Putin’s visit left a great impression on them. 

“Academic exchanges are extremely important, allowing us to combine the best traditions and experience of Russian and Chinese schools of engineering and to train top class professionals, who are in great demand in the economies of both China and Russia,” a senior engineering student surnamed Xu said, adding that he never imagined that Putin would visit his campus. 

According to Xu, both his roommates and friends, who began studying Russian four years ago, were excited about Putin’s visit. 

“We love Russian literature, architecture, food and music,” Xu said, noting that in his hometown back in Suifenhe, enterprises expect experts with knowledge of foreign languages, especially Russian. 

With deeper exchanges and interactions, there is no doubt that more Chinese and Russian people will actively engage in cultural, educational and scientific exchanges, and bilateral exchanges will definitely make tangible contributions to the advancement of friendly and neighborly relations between China and Russia.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. [email protected]

‘Dialogue with Africa’: Intl Tea Day celebrated at Beijing event

Photo: Bi Mengying/GT

Photo: Bi Mengying/GT

As established by the United Nations in 2019, the International Tea Day is celebrated on May 21 every year with the aim to raise awareness about the importance of tea in various cultures and its economic impact globally. 

The China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy (CIIDS) ­hosted a cultural exchange event titled “Tea and the World: Dialogue with Africa” in Beijing on Tuesday. Diplomatic envoys, African international students in China, and cultural ambassadors gathered at the event to share their thoughts about tea culture and experienced various forms of tea art such as Tang Dynasty (618-907) tea roasting and Song Dynasty (960-1279) tea brewing.

“Tea has become a cultural bridge transcending national boundaries,” said Shan Wei, a member of the CIIDS Academic Committee and director of the International Centre for Cultural Exchange and Research at CIIDS. 

Originating from China, tea belongs to the world. Continuing to serve as a messenger of peace and friendship, it promotes communication and exchanges among different cultures and civilizations, Shan noted.

Photo: Bi Mengying/GT

Photo: Bi Mengying/GT

Cai Yuanyuan, a deputy director of the International Centre for Cultural Exchange and Research at CIIDS, told the Global Times that tea culture has been gaining in popularity and influence globally. The increasing numbers of Chinese milk tea shops overseas, or the Chinese tea bags provided in high-end hotels in Europe and North America, are just some examples of the branding and internationalization of Chinese tea products and culture.

Tea serves as a unique cultural symbol in China, initially used for medicinal purposes and gradually integrated into the daily life of the Chinese people since ancient times. Tea has become an important symbol of Chinese civilization and significant carrier for traditional Chinese culture. 

Tea and coffee are the two most important beverages in the world. Tea culture is gradually making its way into Africa, a region known for its coffee production. 

“In recent years, with the continuous deepening of China-African relations, tea and coffee, two regionally distinctive beverages, have begun to generate wonderful chemical reactions among young people in China and Africa. More and more Chinese youths are starting to taste African coffee, experiencing its unique flavor and charm. Meanwhile, African youths are gradually drawn to Chinese tea culture, beginning to explore the world of tea,” said Zhou Yefan, founder of the China-Africa Youth Federation. 

Zhou told the Global Times that today, tea culture has entered the lives of young people in new forms, with various types of milk tea, cold-brewed tea, and exquisite tea packaging featuring traditional Chinese cultural elements such as the 24 Solar Terms. 

Among the intertwining aromas of tea and coffee, young people from China and Africa are coming to understand each other’s cultural history and values, establishing friendships, he added. 

‘Lai-style Taiwan independence’ agenda is a dead-end: Global Times editorial

DPP candidate Lai Ching-te. Photo: VCG

Lai Ching-te Photo: VCG

On May 20, Lai Ching-te assumed the role of Taiwan region’s new leader and delivered his inaugural speech. Lai shamelessly stated in his speech that “the Republic of China Taiwan is a sovereign, independent nation” and “the Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China are not subordinate to each other,” spewing various “Taiwan independence” fallacies and hostile provocations against the Chinese mainland, once again exposing his stubborn nature as “a worker for Taiwan independence.” This speech can be described as a blatant “Taiwan independence manifesto” and “a declaration of harm to Taiwan.” It is extremely dangerous, and the Taiwan compatriots should be particularly vigilant and united in opposition.

We noticed that in this speech, the term “democracy” was mentioned 31 times, and “peace” 21 times, which precisely exposes the anxiety of the DPP authorities – they are well aware that what they are doing now is pushing Taiwan into a dangerous pit of war and danger, hence desperately using “democracy” as a fig leaf and talisman to cover themselves. It is clear to all discerning eyes that the so-called “democracy” is nothing but inferior makeup smeared on the face of “Taiwan independence,” unable to conceal its true face of “seeking independence by relying on foreign support and by force.”

In the positioning of cross-Straits relations, Lai boldly defines the two sides of the straits as “two countries,” listing “Taiwan,” “Republic of China Taiwan,” and “Republic of China” as so-called “national names,” further advancing on the “one China, one Taiwan” path of “Taiwan independence.” This blatant “two-state theory” cannot change the fact that Taiwan is only a part of China, nor can it stop the historical trend of reunification of the motherland. Its only effect is to exacerbate the tension in the Taiwan Straits and make Taiwan society pay a high price for the reckless gamble of “Taiwan independence.”

While treating compatriots from the mainland as “foreigners,” Lai in his speech regards Western anti-China forces as “family members,” throughout the speech filled with servility and begging for mercy from Western anti-China forces, which is very shameful. In order to gain the support of Western anti-China forces, he claims that “the world greeting a new Taiwan”, Taiwan is “an important link in the global chain of democracies,” ” Taiwan is strategically positioned in the first island chain,” and so on. These remarks of selling out Taiwan treat the hard-earned social achievements and wealth accumulated by the Taiwan residents for decades as offerings to anti-China forces in the West, reducing Taiwan to a pawn of the US and giving it the appearance of “unworthy descendants.”

Even more dangerous is the subtle manifestation of the arrogant ambition of “seeking independence by force” in his speech. On the one hand, Lai echoes the fallacies of certain Western countries, smearing the mainland as a “threat”; on the other hand, he attempts to indoctrinate the people in Taiwan into cannon fodder for “Taiwan independence,” openly advocating for raising the citizens’ “defense awareness,” fully exposing the sinister intention of sacrificing innocent people on the island for the selfish desire of “Taiwan independence.”

In the past, members of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had a bad habit: Whenever they found themselves in a political dead end, such as being caught in corruption scandals or having their sex scandals exposed, they would play the “Taiwan independence card” to stay afloat. Unexpectedly, Lai, who has just taken office, is resorting to the “Taiwan independence card” right from the start of his tenure. However, the mainstream public opinion on the island is to pursue peace instead of war, development instead of decline, communication instead of separation, and cooperation instead of confrontation. This is not only the common voice of the 23 million people in Taiwan, but also the strong resonance of over 1.4 billion Chinese people.

The motherland must be unified, and it will inevitably be unified. Regardless of changes in the situation on the island or who holds power, it cannot change the fact that both sides of the Straits belong to one China, nor can it change the fundamental pattern and direction of cross-Straits relations, or block the historical trend of the eventual reunification of the motherland.

“Lai-style Taiwan independence” will only exacerbate the confrontation and instability across the Straits, inevitably leading to self-overestimation and self-destruction.

We have lost the West, but we have discovered ‘the rest’: Dugin

Children wave Chinese and Russian flags before a welcome ceremony for Russian President Vladimir Putin outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 16, 2024 Photo: VCG

Children wave Chinese and Russian flags before a welcome ceremony for Russian President Vladimir Putin outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 16, 2024 Photo: VCG

Editor Note:

Russian political philosopher and analyst Aleksandr Dugin
(Dugin), whom some Western media call the “Putin’s brain,” is one of the most controversial scholars in Russia and has now joined China’s social media platforms such as Sina Weibo and Bilibili, to seek more and deeper communication with Chinese web users and scholars. 

Before the announcement of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to China, Global Times
(GT) reporter Yang Sheng had an exclusive interview with Dugin in Moscow, where he shared his views about China-Russia relations and responses to some sharp and critical comments made by Chinese netizens on his opinions.  

Some questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity

GT: How do you predict the outcome of President Putin’s state visit to China and also the future about the China-Russia relations?

Dugin: In diplomacy there are many things that have symbolic meanings. This is Putin’s first foreign visit after his reelection and inauguration. This visit is, however, quiet unique. There is something more behind – the will of the creation of a multipolar world. 

China is not just a part of Western capitalist, liberal, economic and political system, but it’s already out of this system. China participates in it, it’s connected with it, but it is a totally independent pole, a sovereign and civilizational state. So, there is no question about China representing such a sovereign pole and pillar of multipolar world order.

The other pillar is Russia. When these two pillars of a multipolar world are meeting and communicating, it’s to show the will to continue to build this multipolarity with the two most important instances of it. The world today is not unipolar anymore, so the hegemony of the Western power is over. 

Thanks to this communication and cooperation between two poles or two pillars (China and Russia), the other countries and regions also want to join “the multipolar club,” such as India, the Islamic world, Africa and Latin America.

That doesn’t mean we are constructing or building alliance against someone. Now, if the West accepts multipolarity, they can participate in the construction of this multipolar world. But if the West continues to oppose an emergence of this multipolarity, we will be obliged to fight against this attempt, not against the West, but against hegemony.

We have seen already many times that when the West declares something they pursue, they presume that there is the “rules-based world order.” But when it comes to contradiction with their interests, they simply change that position. 

They invited China into the open global market, but when China started to gain an edge, some Western countries started to impose some protectionist measures against China. They change the rules to serve their own interests, because they are “the rules.” 

Together, we want to defend against any attempt to destroy this multipolarity or to maintain hegemony of any power in the world. 

GT: How could Russia overcome all those difficulties and challenges that it has experienced in the past two years since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis in 2022? A series of sanctions have been launched by the Western world against Russia, but last year we see that according to the data released by the Russian government, the Russian economy has realized about 3.6% GDP growth in 2023.

Dugin: In order to answer your question, we need to research different versions of the participation and globalization process. You Chinese have very special experience in that. You entered the globalization as more or less a country delayed in its development. And during and after reforms you have managed to use the participation in globalization to your favor. You have taken all the positive sides of that and to save and reinforce the sovereignty and the rule of the Communist Party of China (CPC). These have guaranteed your country some kind of stability.

Russian experience of participation in the globalization was quite different. First of all, we lost order. We lost our geopolitical system, including our control over Eastern Europe. We lost Warsaw Pact countries and gave them to NATO. We accepted Western values, Western systems, Western type of constitution, and we lost the Soviet Union. 

We also lost our industries, our economy and our financial system. We lost everything during the 1990s. So those are two different experiences of the globalization process. China’s style is better and realized the fast growth while also preserving its own independence and sovereignty. Now the wisdom of Deng Xiaoping and the CPC, during all of these decades, is clearly manifested.

Putin, when he came to power, he started to restore this sovereignty of Russia step by step. Sovereignty was put at the center of his politics. And when we were cut from the globalist Western economy, we did not lose anything. But we gained because we were obliged to the will of our own, even this will possibly make us lose some interests. And at the same time, we were not isolated and rediscovered that we are not lonely in this world.

There are a lot of partners, such as China, the Islamic world, India and so on. We have also discovered who is willing to cooperate with us. We have found that more and more countries are interested in being involved in an economic partnership with Russia. We have discovered the other replacement for the West, such as countries in Africa and Latin America, so we have lost the West, but we have discovered “the rest.” 

GT: You have recently opened your personal accounts in some Chinese social media platforms such as Sina Weibo and Bilibili. Many Chinese web users are following you to see what you are going to say to the Chinese public. Why did you do that, and do you read the comments made by Chinese netizens?

Dugin: First of all, I have great respect for modern China and traditions in China. I wrote a book called The Yellow Dragon, dedicated totally to the Chinese civilization from the beginning to the modern time. Now I’m seeing the glory of China’s spirit, culture and philosophy. And that is the book of a China lover and admirer. 

Now I consider that we need to elaborate more the philosophical basis of China-Russia friendship. The two countries are not just tactical partners but are an alignment between two great civilizations, and in order to promote this, we need to understand each other better. 

Our societies, cultures, civilizations, traditional values are very different. They get divergent, and in some elements, they are convergent. In order to promote a full-scale dialogue between two civilizations, I have decided to open social media accounts in China and to talk to the Chinese public, to open discussion. In this, I’m just expressing my opinion on what is going on in Russia, what is going on in the world, how Russians see the importance of China, and what principles should be put in the basis of our future relations. 

I started with a very friendly gesture and open for discussion. But after that, a huge wave of debates emerged, and for me, this is amazing and astonishing. I didn’t expect that. 

Some people started to use some fragments of my previous opinions from the 1990s, when we lived in a totally different condition in Russia. Before Putin, the country was ruled by “the traitors of our civilization.” I considered [at that time] that China is entering the globalization and it will lose its sovereignty, and it is going to betray its traditional values to in favor of global capitalism by betraying its socialist and communist ideas.

GT: So in the 1990s, you thought that China would be changed by globalization, and maybe even join the West to become a threat to Russia. But after that you changed your opinion because China also changed, and China’s change surprised you, because you didn’t expect that and then you became friendly to China and you support the China-Russian friendship again. Is that correct? 

Dugin: Absolutely! Absolutely! The fact that the change was about 25 years ago, so it was not a new change. 

My opinions have changed because China has changed, the world has changed, Russia has changed, geopolitics has changed. And it is not correct to use my opinions that are taken out of context to attack me.

I finally changed my opinion after I made visits to China from the 2000s. I met with many Chinese intellectuals, and we had serious and very fruitful discussions. At present, I have a totally different opinion, not only theoretically, but I am heavily involved in working to lift the life of China’s academic society. The more I know about China, the more I admire it. 

Cooperation fervor among China-Russia localities and businesses at its peak

China-Russia Photo: VCG

China-Russia Photo: VCG

Cooperation among localities and businesses in China and Russia has been gaining momentum at an impressive pace, showcasing notable vitality and confidence in bilateral economic ties across multiple sectors, against the backdrop of the ongoing top-level visit and a bustling array of bilateral trade promotion activities.

Experts noted that the strengthened cooperation between China and Russia ¬- both at the regional and business levels ¬- will inject robust impetus into the sustained, healthy, and stable development of the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era.

Analysts anticipate that the coordinated development between northeastern China and Russia’s Far East region is poised to alter the economic development paradigm between the two countries and stimulate economic growth across East Asia.

The remarks were made amid the ongoing and highly anticipated state visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to China on Thursday and Friday.  

President Putin will attend the China-Russia Expo, the highest-level exhibition between the two countries, which is also a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia this year.

The pivotal trade expo kicked off on Thursday in Harbin, Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, and will run until May 21. 

More than 1,400 enterprises from 44 countries and regions, as well as 21 provinces and municipalities in China, had registered to participate as of May 6. A total of 16 Russian federal entities are showcasing their businesses at the event in a bid to foster exchanges with China across diverse sectors, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.

“As a leading Russian enterprise, our products have entered more than 200 chain supermarkets in China, with sales doubling annually,” Evgeny Bazhov, general manager of Uniconf, a company in the Russian confectionery sector and the largest producer of sweets in Eastern Europe, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Bazhov said that the company expects to assist other Russian brands, newly entered, to tap the promising China market through such a high-level trade event. 

“Our products are available in more than 40,000 stores, with 150 Chinese distributors actively involved. We anticipate further business opportunities, particularly highlighting the potential of e-commerce in China’s vast market,” Bazhov said.

“China’s market stands as our largest and most crucial market, as well as the most welcoming market for us,” Alexey Solodov, vice president of the Russian Export Center, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Solodov noted that President Putin’s visit to China is expected to inject fresh vitality into bilateral trade cooperation, forming the bedrock of China-Russia friendship and underpinning bilateral trade ties. 

“I firmly believe that our countries’ trade cooperation will be further fortified,” Solodov noted.

Apart from business ties, China and Russia vowed to increase cooperation at the locality level.

China’s action plan to revitalize its northeastern region aligns with Russia’s push for Far East Development. In light of their geographical proximity and economic synergy, the two regions have vast industrial and business potential, Sun Huijun, a veteran expert on China-Russia trade relations at the China-Russia Friendship Association, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Putin noted during the 8th Eastern Economic Forum, held in September 2023 in Vladivostok, Russia, that the bilateral relationship had entered its best period in history, with smooth development in various fields, stressing that the development of the Far East of Russia had become a new growth point for Russia-China cooperation, and economic relations.

China implements visa-free entry for foreign cruise ship groups

Foreign tourists apply for temporary entry permits at the Tianjin Dongjiang border inspection station in north China's Tianjin Municipality on April 7, 2024. Cruise ship Serenade of the Seas docked at Tianjin International Cruise Home Port in north China's port city of Tianjin on Sunday morning, with over 1,800 tourists from 50 countries and regions aboard.

The ship will dock at Tianjin for two days and one night, carrying over 800 crew members and over 1,800 tourists. Most of the tourists will go sightseeing in the cities of Beijing and Tianjin.

Tianjin International Cruise Home Port has welcomed 22 cruise ships and seen 68,000 tourist visits so far this year, according to Dong Zichen, deputy general manager of Tianjin International Cruise Home Port Co., Ltd. (Xinhua/Sun Fanyue)

Foreign tourists apply for temporary entry permits at the Tianjin Dongjiang border inspection station in north China’s Tianjin Municipality on April 7, 2024. Cruise ship Serenade of the Seas docked at Tianjin International Cruise Home Port in north China’s port city of Tianjin on Sunday morning, with over 1,800 tourists from 50 countries and regions aboard. The ship will dock at Tianjin for two days and one night, carrying over 800 crew members and over 1,800 tourists. Most of the tourists will go sightseeing in the cities of Beijing and Tianjin. Tianjin International Cruise Home Port has welcomed 22 cruise ships and seen 68,000 tourist visits so far this year, according to Dong Zichen, deputy general manager of Tianjin International Cruise Home Port Co., Ltd. (Xinhua/Sun Fanyue)

China’s National Immigration Administration (NIA) announced on Wednesday the full implementation of a visa exemption policy for foreign tourist groups entering China on cruise ships from the country’s designated coastal provinces and cities. The policy will take immediate effect.

The nation aims to facilitate exchanges between Chinese and foreign personnel while promoting high-level opening-up to the outside world. With such visa policies in place, experts said that passenger arrivals may reach the pre-pandemic level of 2019.

Starting from Wednesday, foreign tourist groups (consisting of two or more people) traveling by cruise ship and organized by domestic travel agencies could enter the Chinese mainland without a visa as a whole group through designated cruise ports in 13 cities including Tianjin, Shanghai, Lianyungang in East China’s Jiangsu Province, Wenzhou and Zhoushan in East China’s Zhejiang Province, Xiamen in East China’s Fujian Province, Guangzhou and Shenzhen in South China’s Guangdong Province, Haikou and Sanya in South China’s Hainan Province, Mao Xu, director-general of the Foreigners Management Department of the NIA, said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Tour groups ought to accompany the same cruise ship to the next port until the cruise ship leaves China, and their stay in China cannot exceed 15 days, with activities limited to the coastal provinces,  municipalities and autonomous regions as well as Beijing, Mao said.

At the same time, in order to support the development of cruise tourism, seven cruise ports in cities including Dalian, Guangzhou and Shenzhen have been added as ports eligible for the visa-free transit policy for personnel from 54 countries, making it easier for foreign passengers to transfer and depart by cruise ship.

The implementation of this policy aims to promote the development of China’s cruise economy and the cruise industry, as well as facilitate exchanges between Chinese and foreign nationals, Mao said.

These new policies provide a breakthrough that will surely inject new impetus into the whole inbound tourism industry, which will bear more fruit as the implementation continues, Yang Jinsong, a senior expert with the China Tourism Academy, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Since the second half of 2023, more and more tourism-related policies have been put in place, including visa-free policies and easy payment methods for foreigners, as part of the effort to boost people-to-people exchanges, and Wednesday’s announcement is an important follow-up of these efforts, Yang said.

“The newly announced policy expansion from the original 15-day cruise visa exemption at Shanghai port to other ports mainly signifies the global and port visit itinerary planning for international cruise companies, benefiting Chinese ports in attracting more international tourists,” Helen Huang, President of MSC Cruises China, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Another industry insider told the Global Times on Wednesday on condition of anonymity that the new policy, which expands the scope of China’s visa-free travel measures, will facilitate the work of international cruise companies whose ships make stopovers in China.

The latest moves draw on the experience of earlier policy trials. Since October 2016, China has provided a pilot visa-free policy for inbound cruise tour groups in Shanghai. Since then, Shanghai has seen an average annual growth rate of 10 percent in cruise passenger trips, injecting new momentum into the high-quality development of Shanghai and coastal economies.

Based on the success of the pilot policy in Shanghai, the new implementation makes it more flexible in terms of entry ports and the range of stays.

For example, the previous pilot policy in Shanghai only allowed cruise ships to enter from the port of Shanghai. Although it permitted tourism in coastal provinces and cities, a single-entry port couldn’t meet the actual needs of cruise services to China or the growing number of foreign tourists, according to Mao.

Moreover, the range of stays is broader under the new policy.

To ensure the smooth implementation of the visa-free policy for cruise ships, optimization measures have been put in place. This process includes exempting foreign passengers arriving by cruise ship from providing biometric information like their fingerprints, said Li Tao, deputy director of the Border Inspection and Management Department of the NIA, on Wednesday.

China’s cruise sector has been showing robust growth. In 2023, there were 107,000 cruise passenger trips, and currently, 21 international cruise ships are operating in domestic ports, Zhu Zhenyu, deputy director of the Water Transport Bureau of the Ministry of Transport, said at Wednesday’s press conference.

GT Voice: Russian Far East holds potential to cooperate with Heilongjiang

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

The eighth China-Russia Expo is scheduled to take place from May 16 to 21 in Harbin, the capital of Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province. 

As the highest-level and largest exhibition hosted by the two countries, the expo serves as a significant platform for fostering economic and cultural exchanges between the two nations. In particular, leveraging the China-Russia Expo cooperation mechanism has the potential to breathe new life into Heilongjiang’s economic and trade collaboration with Russia’s Far East.

A closer connection with Heilongjiang will bring more development opportunities for Russia’s Far East, a prospect that offers strong certainty and has high expectations from both China and Russia.

The development potential in Russia’s Far East is vast, and with the deepening of China-Russia relations, many believe that the region is poised to emerge as a new bright spot in their cooperation. Not only is the Far East abundant in mineral, forest and agricultural resources, but its superior geographical location, adjacent to the East Asian economic circle, also makes it conducive to economic exchanges with China.

Heilongjiang, which shares a 2,981-kilometer border with Russia, also benefits from a unique geographical advantage, fostering close people-to-people exchanges and strong economic complementarity with Russia’s Far East. 

Economic and trade cooperation between Russia’s Far East and Heilongjiang encompasses various sectors including energy, agriculture, manufacturing and infrastructure. In terms of agricultural cooperation, Heilongjiang’s grain production has been combined with the agricultural development of the Far East to enhance regional food security and agricultural modernization. 

Moreover, the ongoing enhancement of infrastructure, such as the construction of cross-border railways and roads, has led to a substantial reduction in logistics costs and a significant improvement in trade facilitation levels.

Some Western public opinion has been critical of economic cooperation between China and Russia, often associating it with the Russia-Ukraine conflict. However, the rapid growth of the Asia-Pacific economy has prompted Russia to focus on developing its Far East region. For example, in 2015, Vladivostok was designated as a free port. With significant geopolitical shifts occurring globally, it is clear that the rise of the Far East is an inevitable trend. Therefore, business collaboration between China and Russia in the Far East not only demonstrates the mutual trust and friendship between the two nations but also aligns with economic rules and business sense.

It should be noted that cooperation between China and Russia in the Far East is greatly underestimated, with immense potential waiting to be unlocked. Russia’s economic structure, centered around resources, remains relatively straightforward. Also, some development commitments and plans for the Far East have yet to be fully realized, which has led to uncertainty among Chinese investors.

Clearly, the Far East’s development necessitates increased external support and collaboration, with China poised to play a significant role. Further opening-up efforts from Russia are essential in various areas to facilitate progress.

First, Russia could further simplify the investment approval procedures, lower the threshold for investment and provide more preferential policies and support for foreign investors.

Second, it could increase investment in infrastructure construction to improve the transportation, logistics, telecommunications and other infrastructure systems in the Far East.

Third, it could encourage in-depth cooperation with China in agriculture, forestry, energy, technology and other areas to promote industrial complementarity.

If China and Russia can jointly accelerate development and cooperation in the Far East, it will be an asset for the stability of the global supply chain and economic development in the Asia-Pacific region and even the world.

‘Chinese people are hospitable; so are we,’American Gen Zers recall journey in China, appeal for common ground and enduring friendship

Students from Muscatine High School experience flying a paper kite during a class at Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School in Shijiazhuang, North China's Hebei Province, on April 20, 2024. Photo: VCG

Students from Muscatine High School experience flying a paper kite during a class at Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School in Shijiazhuang, North China’s Hebei Province, on April 20, 2024. Photo: VCG

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.

“The youth of China and the US should continue to build strong friendships, improving their understanding of each other, and their countries. This will help lead citizens around the world to interact and communicate with each other.” This sentiment was solemnly shared by 17-year-old Colin Millage from Muscatine High School from the US state of Iowa, as he returned to the country after an 8-day study tour in China in late April.

The study tour delegation is called “Inheritance of Friendship,” which is part of a China-initiated program that invites 50,000 US youth to China within five years for exchanges and study. The delegation is the second batch from the school. 

With all 32 members of Generation Z who came to China for the first time, they embarked on the journey with curiosity about China and a desire to fully embrace the country and its people. Touched by the sincere interactions between the people of China and the US, they are committed to carrying forward friendship in their own way. 

Millage believes that their trip can serve as an example to young people, showing that friendships between countries can lead the world in the right direction toward peace and stability. 

“We are the future. It’s important for the youth all over the world to connect for a better future. I expect there will be many more exchanges between the two countries,” Millage’s fellow Skye Foster, a 10th-grade student, also shared with the Global Times.

‘Beautiful first impression’

With the dazzling light effects, innovative stage design and imaginative program arrangement, the welcome performance titled “Chinese Impressions” by students from Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School on the evening of April 19 in Shijiazhuang, North China’s Hebei Province, left a lasting impression on Millage.  

“It gave me a beautiful first impression,” Millage said, referring to the exquisite performance of his Chinese peers and the profound Chinese culture embedded in the program.

American Gen Zers are always eager to experience different cultures. For example, Foster noted she chose to participate in the school trip to China because she loved learning Chinese.

During the journey, the delegation visited Beijing, Hebei, and Shanghai. They wore traditional Hanfu, climbed the Great Wall, visited the Forbidden City, and explored the Xiong’an New Area. They tasted traditional local cuisine, learned to pay for services using mobile phone QR codes, experiencing a real, comprehensive China that blends the classical and the modern.

In Millage’s opinion, China is a country filled with deep culture and history. From the intricate architecture to the meaningful cultural practices, the country beautifully presents itself with an influential cultural identity. 

“China is a very big country. There is so much to learn about China. There’s so much to see and I had a great experience there,” Foster said.

“Sending the second study tour delegation to China in such a short period of time shows how successful the first group’s trip to China was,” Ryan Scott Castle, principal of Muscatine High School, told the Global Times. He mentioned that many students who had previously visited China signed up again for the second research group and he had to use his authority as principal to “keep them in the US” because more and more students from Muscatine are eager to explore China.

“Before departure, I told the kids: As soon as the plane lands, put away your phones, absorb like a sponge, breathe in the air of China, enjoy the food of China, seize every opportunity to communicate with the people around you… Since you are in China, embrace it with your whole heart,” said Luca Berrone, Chairman of the Muscatine-China Initiatives Committee, who accompanied the delegation to China.

To Berrone’s relief, the teenagers did just that. Millage said he would tell all his family and friends that China should be their next vacation. 

Millage noted that some media sources in the US made China out to be restrictive on some level, but he thought that mainly stems from the US’ superiority complex about being “the most free country” when most other countries are also free. 

“After being in China, I completely disagree with any portrayal of the country being restrictive… While some Americans may be cautious when visiting the country due to negatively preconceived notions, they should look past that and appreciate the beauty the country can offer,” he stressed.

Exemplary tales of exchanges

Students from Muscatine High School learn Chinese calligraphy at Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School on April 21, 2024. Photo: VCG

Students from Muscatine High School learn Chinese calligraphy at Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School on April 21, 2024. Photo: VCG

Hebei Province and the Iowa State signed their sister-state relationship in 1983. For over 40 years, Hebei and Iowa have written many exemplary tales of friendly exchanges.

In the spring of 1985, Chinese President Xi Jinping, at that time a county leader in Zhengding, Hebei Province, took his initial steps on US soil. From then on, Xi never forgot his American friends and believes that people hold the key to state-to-state relations.

Now, this friendship is being further strengthened with new initiatives.

For Foster, her most memorable experience in China was going to her Chinese partner’s home and spending more time with her. 

As the host school for the US students, the Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School requested students from China and the US to form one-on-one friendly partnerships. They studied Chinese poetry, played table tennis, and each US student also visited the home of his or her Chinese partner and had dinner together.

“The teachers were very kind and caring. The students were so welcoming and nice,” Foster said.

More importantly, these young people from China and the US have the opportunity to sit together and listen to their elders tell stories of the sincere interactions between the two countries throughout history.

Berrone, who was involved in Xi’s first visit to the US, still remembered the first dinner that the Hebei delegation led by Xi had in Iowa, which was a traditional American “potluck dinner,” at which each family brought a dish to share. 

The delegation immediately blended in with the local residents, Berrone recalled. “Meeting for the first time, local residents were also very excited and attracted to them, wanting to know more about Hebei and China,” he said.

American Gen Zers also value the ties of friendship; they were encouraged by the stories of the elderly generation. “They taught me to cherish these bonds, especially cherish those with Chinese partners that span thousands of miles,” Millage said. “American and Chinese people speak different languages and have different cultures, however, Chinese people are hospitable, and so are we.”

During his trip to China, Millage and his friends exchanged their ideals and looked forward to becoming closer friends, growing together to become better individuals.

“Ultimately, both countries should look toward to these similarities to find common ground and build a stronger relationship,” he said.




GT Voice: China-Russia trade has strong resilience, offers huge potential

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

It is normal to see fluctuations in the monthly readings for China’s exports to Russia, but those figures have been ironically cited by some Western media outlets as evidence of the effectiveness of the illegal US sanctions on Russia. Their self-deceiving propaganda is merely bravado.

The Voice of America has published an article distorting and hyping a decline in China’s April exports to Russia, attributing the drop to the impact of US sanctions. It is a bit ironic that while Western media outlets try to smear and criticize China’s trade with Russia by focusing on short-term fluctuations, they lose sight of the bigger picture.

China and Russia in recent years have further strengthened strategic coordination and achieved new results in mutually beneficial cooperation. Although customs data showed that China’s exports to Russia fell to 59.03 billion yuan ($8.17 billion) in April 2024 from 66.19 billion yuan in April 2023, exports from China to Russia increased in the first four months this year.

Trade between China and Russia grew steadily in recent years. In 2023, bilateral trade reached $240.1 billion, achieving the target of $200 billion ahead of schedule, which shows the strong resilience and broad prospects for mutually beneficial cooperation.

Trade and economic cooperation serve as key pieces in the jigsaw puzzle of China-Russia relations and enjoy great potential. Bilateral economic cooperation has advanced steadily not just in traditional fields such as energy, agriculture and forestry, but also in sectors including vehicles, home appliances and food processing.

This is the natural result of economic complementarity. To take the example of agriculture, Russia’s flour, beef, ice cream and some other agricultural products are favored by Chinese consumers, while made-in-China agricultural machinery and types of food-processing equipment are widely recognized by Russian farmers and companies.

Economic cooperation between China and Russia is mutually beneficial. Their cooperation neither targets any third party, nor is it influenced by a third party, let alone is it subject to interference and provocation by any third party.

The US recently imposed sanctions on about 20 Chinese companies for allegedly supporting Russia’s military-industrial and energy development. The move is a typical example of economic coercion, unilateralism, and bullying. China’s right to conduct normal economic exchanges with Russia and other countries on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and common development should not be infringed on. 

In recent years, the US has frequently used long-arm jurisdiction to abuse state power and arbitrarily place restrictions on trade and investment. Washington may try to drive a wedge to disrupt economic cooperation not only between China and Russia, but also between China and other countries and regions. This hegemonic approach has seriously disrupted the normal international economic and trade order and brought economic shocks to the global industrial chains. It will inevitably face a powerful backlash from people across the world.

As the global economy has entered a period of uncertainty and volatility partly due to the unilateralism and hegemonic practices of the US, developing countries, including China and Russia, should be further strengthening and consolidating their cooperation based on mutual respect, trust and understanding. They should address specific issues that hinder the further development of their economic and trade ties.

The challenges encountered by trade between China and Russia in the process of rapid development are controllable and can be solved through appropriate means. Both countries have the confidence, conditions and ability to further expand and deepen their mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields. For instance, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko was quoted by Russian news agency TASS as saying in February that Moscow is confident that the issues related to payments with China will be solved.

As the US escalates sanctions against Russia, the world is under pressure over its banks accepting payments from Russian companies, but it is believed that remaining problems will be gradually resolved, because it is consistent with the efforts by countries, especially developing economies, to ensure financial security and stability.

Even higher tariffs cannot protect the US automotive industry: Global Times editorial

Abusing tariffs. Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Abusing tariffs. Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

According to multiple Western media outlets citing a “person familiar with the plan,” the US government is expected to announce as early as May 14 that it will increase the tariff on Chinese electric vehicles (EVs) from the current 25 percent to 100 percent, and impose new tariffs on other Chinese goods including semiconductors and medical supplies. The White House declined to comment. The US side is currently reviewing the tariffs on Chinese goods imposed during the Donald Trump era. Chinese new energy products represented by EVs have garnered particular attention. However, it’s generally believed that considering the “almost zero” number of EVs exported from China to the US, even if the new tariffs are implemented, they are unlikely to immediately impact Chinese electric car companies. What the US will do next matters more about a portrayal of its own national reputation.

The US claims it is founded on free trade. Imposing a 100 percent tariff on goods from other countries, regardless of the reasons, is a clear violation of WTO rules and the spirit of free trade. If appealed to the WTO for arbitration, the US will definitely lose the case and face condemnation from the international community. However, many major international media outlets, including those in the US, actually believe that the US would do such a thing based on a few words from the “person familiar with the plan,” which reflects the US’ current global image. If such damaging incidents to international reputation occurred in any other countries, the government would be expected to firmly clarify, but the White House remains silent. All these strange occurrences have become “normal” when it comes to the US, further highlighting the abnormality of the current US policy direction.

The US has been launching a public opinion offensive against China’s new energy industry under the pretext of “overcapacity” for several months, and news of tariff increases has been spreading in waves. Several US media outlets have revealed that there is “serious disagreement” within the US domestic and even government on whether to adjust tariffs, and they are facing opposition from global public opinion. The CEO of Stellantis, the parent company of Maserati, Carlos Tavares, previously said that “I’m not asking for any kind of protection, because anyway, we are a global company, so I will not be protected everywhere.” The Wall Street Journal also pointed out that trying to bar the most affordable electric vehicles from the US market will put pressure on another Biden administration goal: reducing carbon emissions. American analysts, industry unions, and others have warned that this “power game” instigated by Washington will not only harm the US economy but may also provoke retaliation from China.

Some analysts believe that in addition to domestic political considerations, if the US really imposes high tariffs, it also intends to put pressure on the EU at this moment. Some former US government officials also stated that they want to involve developing countries such as Brazil and India with the US to do so. If the US really does this, it will harm the interests of the whole world, not only infringing on the free trade rights of other countries, but also depriving the “Global South” countries of their green development rights, especially considering the contribution of China’s new energy industry to global green transformation, especially to the “Global South” countries.

Looking at it from a different perspective, can high tariffs and trade barriers really protect the US automotive industry? The US steel industry is a case in point. As early as 2017, when the US issued antidumping and countervailing duty orders on imports of stainless steel sheet and strip from China, the Global Times pointed out in an article that China’s steel exports to the US are insignificant, and the root of the US steel industry’s problems lies not in so-called “unfair competition” or lack of sufficient protection, but in its long-standing monopoly position and lack of emphasis on relying on technological progress to improve production efficiency. What the US steel industry really needs is reform through openness, and trade protection will only enhance corporate inertia. Indeed, late last year, the giant company U.S. Steel Corporation, which provided steel for the Empire State Building in New York, accepted acquisition by a Japanese company. Has protectionism indeed protected the US steel industry? Or has it turned into a political bubble? If Washington still wants to replicate the “protection” path, then the fate of the steel industry today may be the fate of the US automotive industry tomorrow.

In fact, there is no lack of good news between China and the US. A meeting of the US-China Working Group on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s was recently held in Washington. The US representative John Podesta said that there is no country more important than China and the US to lead us forward. Larry Marshall, the former chief executive of CSIRO, Australia’s national scientific research agency, also said that the world needs a “climate armistice” between the US and China if net zero emissions are to be reached. In fact, American car companies are “looking for electric vehicle allies in China,” and Tesla is a good example. Whether to step into the river of protectionism again or embrace the trend of win-win cooperation, the issue of tariffs on China is a touchstone for Washington.