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.

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.

Absa opens Beijing office to unlock trade, investment opportunities, show confidence in China market

China South Africa Photo:VCG

China South Africa Photo:VCG

South Africa’s Absa Group, a leading pan-African bank, announced on Wednesday the official launch of its new non-banking subsidiary in Beijing. The ambitious move aims to unlock more trade and investment opportunities between China and Africa.

The new office will enable the Johannesburg-based company to offer local support to Chinese clients and stakeholders to conclude transactions across the African continent, helping to support clients’ needs, according to a statement issued by the Absa Group in January.

This business expansion demonstrates Absa’s emphasis on and robust confidence in China’s market. It also reflects China’s persistent endeavors to foster growing economic ties with the rising Global South, experts said.

Amid the evolving global economic landscape, cooperation between the two sides has progressed from basic energy and infrastructure projects to financial collaboration, which are more pivotal and forward-looking areas, and this is likely to deepen bilateral ties in the real economy sector, Yang Baorong, director of African Studies of the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The new office in Beijing will allow Absa to provide general advisory services to clients based in China, according to a statement. The lender will also be able to distribute some research about the macroeconomic environment and securities reports to some institutional clients in China, Bloomberg reported.

The move will help the bank become a “facilitator of trade flows into Africa”, Absa said in its latest financial report, published in early March, according to media reports. 

“Our expansion into this dynamic market represents an exciting opportunity to unlock new avenues of growth and prosperity for Africa and China,” said Arrie Rautenbach, the CEO of Absa Group, at a ceremony earlier this year, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

In recent years, investment cooperation between the two sides has steadily grown, with annual manufacturing direct investment exceeding $400 million and infrastructure construction cooperation exceeding $37 billion, supporting Africa’s industrialization and economic diversification, said He Yadong, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Commerce, at a regular press conference on April 11.

The cooperation has boosted China-South Africa ties under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. Over the past decade, this initiative has significantly improved economic development and livelihoods in Africa. 

“Removing constraints on financial flows is crucial for deepening the bilateral ties,” Song Wei, a professor with the School of International Relations and Diplomacy at Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The launch of the subsidiary signifies Africa’s financial institutions’ participation in China-African financial cooperation, which is expected to bolster mutual benefits in settlement and investment, Song added.

GT Voice: Success of China-France farm trade may offer lessons for US

Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

China and France issued a joint statement on agricultural exchanges and cooperation on Monday, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday. 

The two sides agreed to enhance collaboration in agricultural science and technology, education, rural development, grape cultivation and wine-making, and agricultural food, among other areas, according to the statement.

Increasing collaboration between China and France in the agricultural field is bound to drive bilateral agricultural trade, injecting new vitality into the development of both countries’ agricultural sectors. Moreover, the success of China and France in tapping the potential of their complementarities in agricultural trade may also offer valuable lessons for China-US agricultural trade in the complex environment.

China and France have a longstanding history of fruitful cooperation in the agricultural sector, with bilateral trade of agricultural products on a steady rise in recent years. According to statistics from the Chinese customs, France is China’s top agricultural import partner in the EU and the second-largest agricultural trading partner within the bloc. 

In particular, in April 2023, China worked with France to set up a “French farm to Chinese dining table” whole-chain rapid coordination mechanism, which has become a shining example of practical cooperation between the two countries.

The sound development of agricultural trade between China and France is not only bolstered by the significance placed on agricultural cooperation by the two governments, but also by the complementary nature of their agricultural sectors. 

For a long time, the Chinese and French governments have attached great importance to agricultural cooperation in their bilateral relations and signed various agreements to create a favorable environment for relevant trade.

Compared to the mutually beneficial trade between China and France, the China-US agricultural trade has been significantly affected by the US-initiated trade war against China in recent years. The ongoing uncertainty in China-US trade relations, particularly the US trade policy toward China, has hindered the potential for trade complementarity between the two countries and could disrupt the normal flow of global trade. 

China has become the world’s largest importer of agricultural products, while the US is still the largest exporter. Yet, trade tensions between the two countries have created uncertainty in agricultural trade, affecting the long-term interests of both countries’ agriculture sectors and farmers.

According to data released by the US Census Bureau, US exports of agricultural and related products hit a three-year low in 2023. Specifically, China’s portion of US agricultural exports dropped to a four-year low of 16.6 percent from a record 19.2 percent in 2022, Reuters reported.

Against the declining trend of agricultural exports, China’s booming agricultural trade with France could serve as a reminder that the US needs to rethink its trade strategy toward China to get agricultural trade with China back on track, and on the right one.

In the long run, as the Chinese economy continues to grow and China pursues consumption upgrades, it needs diversified products to meet its huge potential for agricultural consumption, which provides opportunities for global suppliers of agricultural products. The China market is critical not only for French farmers but also for American farmers. If US agricultural suppliers can successfully tap and adapt to this market, they will stand to gain enormously, similar to their French peers. This will not only promote the development of American agriculture but also contribute to the health and stability of global agricultural trade.

Given the successful experience of China-France agricultural trade, it is hoped that China and the US can find a solution to their problems. Resolving these issues will require the US to adhere to international trade norms and work toward a negotiated solution. Ultimately, the future of China-US agricultural trade and the achievement of mutually beneficial outcomes will depend on the willingness of the US to engage in constructive dialogue and cooperation.

Diplomatic envoys’ Hainan tour deepens business cooperation thanks to high-quality BRI development

A delegation comprised of more than 25 diplomatic envoys from 15 countries, including Madagascar, Finland, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Belarus and Germany, engaged in a five-day tour of South China's Hainan Province from April 22 to 26. Photo: MaTong/GT

A delegation comprised of more than 25 diplomatic envoys from 15 countries, including Madagascar, Finland, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Belarus and Germany, engaged in a five-day tour of South China’s Hainan Province from April 22 to 26. Photo: MaTong/GT

A delegation comprised of more than 25 diplomatic envoys from 15 countries, including Madagascar, Finland, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Belarus and Germany, engaged in a five-day tour of South China’s Hainan Province from April 22 to 26, aiming to delve into the island’s multifaceted developmental strategy and tap more business opportunities there.

Hainan, China’s southernmost province, was once a key node of the Ancient Maritime Silk Road. Presently, it stands as a hub for the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and serves as a gateway for the country’s international outreach, particularly towards the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Acting as a “bridge” connecting the Chinese mainland and Southeast Asia, Hainan is playing a crucial role in deepening China-Indonesia economic cooperation with its complete policy package, Parulian George Andreas Silalahi, minister of the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in China, told the Global Times after a free trade port (FTP) policy briefing on Monday.

During the policy briefing, which was the kick-off event for the visit, provincial officials introduced the FTP preferential policy system focused on special tax measures and facilitation for the flow of trade, cross-border capital, personnel and transportation, and data.

“I can see the full potential of Hainan becoming a game changer or a global player not just in China, but in the broader regional and global setting,” Silalahi said, adding that as tropical islands, Indonesia and Hainan possess numerous similarities and significant potential for collaboration in tropical agriculture and deep-sea exploring.

As part of China’s relentless drive to enhance opening-up, the province is dedicated to establishing an FTP with Chinese characteristics and global influence. Preparations for island-wide special customs operations before the end of 2035 are in full swing, highlighting a key priority in the provincial government’s agenda, Feng Fei, secretary of Hainan’s CPC Provincial Committee, noted during a meeting with the diplomats.

Madagascar, another BRI partner country, is exploring the establishment of economic zones and an FTP, inspired by Hainan’s example, Jean Louis Robinson, ambassador of the Republic of Madagascar to China said on Tuesday, noting mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries is poised to set a model for international collaboration.

Hainan is making an all-out effort to benchmark itself against the highest level of opening-up in the world. Investors worldwide are welcomed to conduct business and engage in the construction of the Hainan FTP, Chen Huaiyu, vice governor of the Hainan provincial government said.

High-quality opening-up 

Since the announcement of the establishment of the FTP in 2018, the number of new foreign-funded enterprises in Hainan has grown at an average annual rate of 65 percent, with a total of 6,543 foreign-funded enterprises now operating across the island, according to official data, showcasing the fruitful results led by its long-term endeavors in high-level opening-up, the vice governor said.

Indonesia, the largest economy in ASEAN, is also a key pivotal node in the Maritime BRI. The China-Indonesia relationship is advancing, Silalahi told the Global Times, adding that in March, an Indonesian business delegation visited a valley village in Hainan for collaborative initiatives. “Now the village serves as a hub for Indonesian products promotion in Hainan.”

As the acceleration of bilateral economic ties, the trade volume between Hainan and ASEAN saw a surge in the first quarter of 2024, the import and export value amounted to 107.9 billion yuan ($14.89 billion), representing a 33.5 percent growth year-on-year, accounting for 16.8 percent of the province’s total foreign trade. ASEAN remains Hainan’s largest trading partner, official data showed.

Belarus is an active proponent of the BRI and was among the first nations to endorse it, Andrei Povov, consul general of the Consulate General of the Republic of Belarus in Guangzhou, told the Global Times, noting the vast potential to enhance logistics connections between the two countries by leveraging FTP’s policy advantages, which would significantly facilitate bilateral trade and result in mutual benefits.

“We have a positive track record of cooperation with China. Progress has also been noted in automobile manufacturing, new energy vehicles, biotechnology, and medical device sectors,” Povov said, positive outcomes are also expected in food processing, he added.

A Belarusian delegation participated in the recently concluded China International Consumer Products Expo (CICPE) in Haikou, the capital city of Hainan, and showcased their products, expecting to tap the huge Chinese market. “These examples demonstrate the extensive opportunities for trade cooperation within the Hainan FTP,” Povov noted.

Cooperation under BRI framework 

Throughout the five-day visit, the diplomatic envoys toured high-tech industrial parks, medical tourism pilot zones, and education innovation pilot zones in Hainan. Among the highlights were the cutting-edge future industries representing the new quality productive forces, such as aerospace supercomputing, deep-sea explorations, digital economy, and green and low-carbon technology.

China’s industrial parks prioritize high-end, advanced production in sectors such as new materials, electronics and smart logistics, making it a promising place for cooperation, Povov said, noting that the two countries have multiple bilateral platforms in operation, such as the flagship project of BRI-China-Belarus Industrial Park, jointly launched by the leaders of both nations in 2015.

Other emerging platforms at the regional level, such as the Hainan FTP, are also taking shape and offer numerous opportunities. Recent collaboration includes a delegation from West Belarus’s Grodno, visiting its sister city Haikou for productive economic and cultural talks, he noted.

At this year’s Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) held in Hainan, the high-quality construction of the BRI was a widely discussed topic, highlighting the facilitations for green economy and digital BRI construction, according to media reports.

This most recent diplomatic tour once again highlighted the theme of high-quality BRI development. Following the visit to Hainan’s Yazhou Bay Science and Technology City on Wednesday, Silalahi noted that he was highly impressed with China’s high-tech advancements and “very happy for China-Indonesia’s joint exploration in the uncharted deep sea.” 

The two countries completed a month-long joint dive expedition on March 23 in the Java Trench, which is located in the eastern Indian Ocean. Using China’s homegrown deep-sea manned submersible “Fendouzhe” submersible, researchers dove to a depth of 7,178 meters, setting a new deep-sea diving record for Indonesia, setting a record for deep-sea exploration in Indonesia.

Côte d’Ivoire is also a BRI partner and is home to a multitude of manufacturing projects which the two countries have jointly established. Thanks to the increasing cooperation, Côte d’Ivoire has emerged as one of the most advanced countries in West Africa, Gomun Kouya Bertin, counselor of the Embassy of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire in China, told the Global Times after visiting an education innovation pilot zone in Hainan.

“High-level education cooperation was a primary focus during my visit to Hainan,” Bertin said, noting that China and Cote d’Ivoire have established a memorandum of education cooperation, there has been a significant increase in the number of Cote d’Ivoire students studying in China following the end of the pandemic.

During the five-day visit, the diplomatic delegation explored Hainan’s leading enterprises in commercial aerospace, biopharmaceuticals, health care, international education, and deep-sea exploration, immersing themselves in the onsite of the FTP construction and unlocking more cooperation opportunities in Hainan. 

Global Times

China, Germany send strong message of mutually beneficial cooperation to stabilize world: Global Times editorial



Chinese President Xi Jinping met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing in the morning of April 16. The two sides not only had in-depth discussions on current China-Germany relations but also exchanged views on international and regional issues of mutual interest, reaching consensus on issues such as the Ukraine crisis and the Palestine-Israel conflict. As China and Germany are respectively the second and third largest economies in the world, the consolidation and development of their relations carries significance that goes beyond the bilateral scope, and has a major impact on the Eurasian continent and the entire world, Xi said, calling on the two countries to view and develop bilateral relations from a long-term and strategic perspective, and work together to inject greater stability and certainty into the world.

The meeting between the two leaders holds significant importance both bilaterally and globally. At the critical juncture of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the all-round strategic partnership between China and Germany, the two countries vigorously enhanced strategic mutual trust, further solidifying and developing bilateral relations. Against the backdrop of escalating regional conflicts and hotspot issues, as well as the uncertainty of global recovery and the growing headwinds of trade protectionism, this meeting of the leaders of both countries has brought rare stability and confidence to the world. The scene of the two leaders taking a walk and chatting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in the spring has quickly garnered attention and positive reviews from media outlets around the world. Even some US and European media outlets that were initially skeptical of Scholz’s visit have changed their tone accordingly, affirming the signal of continued cooperation conveyed by the leaders of China and Germany during the meeting.

As a strategically significant interaction between China and Germany, the dialogue between the leaders of the two countries has clarified the direction of China-Germany relations as well as the broader China-Europe relations at four levels. First, mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Germany is not a “risk,” but the guarantee for a stable bilateral relationship and an opportunity for the future. Second, both sides should promote the win-win features of their relations and enable each other to succeed. Third, the two sides should stay vigilant against the rise of protectionism, adopt an objective and dialectical view on the issue of capacity through a market and global perspective and based on the laws of economics, and devote more efforts to the discussion on cooperation. Fourth, the two countries share a lot in common on the issue of world multipolarity. A multipolar world is, in essence, one where countries with different civilizations, systems and paths respect each other and coexist in peace.

The above-mentioned ideas are also widely recognized and accepted at the social level in both countries. Scholz’s visit to China has followed a trend of starting low and ending high in domestic and European public opinion. Scholz’s visit to China was initially seen as a betrayal of Europe’s “de-risking” campaign. However, as Scholz’s visit unfolded, the German delegation and European public opinion saw and understood the real and comprehensive China, gaining a deeper understanding of the mutual benefit and win-win nature of the relationship. Scholz’s statement that “Chinese cars would be welcome on the market in Germany” was also warmly received in China for the same underlying reason. Under the conditions of a market economy, it is widely agreed that the best “protection” is to maintain competitiveness rather than increase trade barriers. This is believed to be inspiring for other countries as well.

The significance of the interaction between China and Germany for the world lies in highlighting how to promote mutual understanding and improve cognition through high-quality communication at a critical moment of global development and transformation, and when the relationship between the two sides is in a state of both opportunities and challenges. Some people have assumed that China and Germany cannot discuss or agree on sensitive issues. However, the experience of high-quality communication between China and Germany in the past allows both sides to engage in constructive dialogue. As two major countries, China and Germany being able to reach a common understanding in these areas will have implications beyond bilateral relations, having a benchmark significance for the entire world and impacting the maintenance and stability of global trade and supply chains in a practical way.

At the end of Scholz’s visit to China, both sides agreed to implement the results of the seventh China-Germany inter-governmental consultations, deepen cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, investment, and technology. The German chancellor and Chinese premier witnessed the signing of multiple bilateral cooperation agreements, including in the field of automated and connected driving. This undoubtedly reflects the practical level of the two countries in seeking consensus in the face of differences and exploring the feasibility of development through cooperation to manage competition. Facing the new political and economic situation in the world, it is believed that China-Germany relations have the ability to face reality and have the courage to face the future, and will surely be able to achieve long-term stability. As President Xi said, the more instability in the world, the greater the need for the two sides to strengthen the resilience and vitality of their relations, keep to the overall direction of cooperation and development in growing bilateral ties, and stick to the characterization of all-round strategic partnership.

Unbreakable bond spans decades

Editor’s note: Amity between the people holds the key to sound state-to-state relations. China Daily will come out with a series of stories highlighting Chinese cities’ special connections with sister cities, mutual understanding, trust and friendship between peoples of different countries and cultural backgrounds, and shining light on “city diplomacy”.

From Wuhan’s Yellow Crane Tower to a modern art museum in Duisburg, these landmark buildings narrate stories of the history of the sister cities. CHINA DAILY

The Chinese city of Wuhan and the German city of Duisburg joined hands in 1982 to become the first pair of sister cities between China and Germany. Decades have passed, and people still remember that this enduring friendship originated from a letter written by a German woman.

In the 1970s, Germany assisted in the construction of a cold-rolling steel plant in Wuhan. At that time, approximately 300 German engineers and their families lived in Wuhan, with the majority hailing from Duisburg.

One day, a German engineer and his wife took a walk along the Yangtze River. Seeing the scenery where the Han River meets the Yangtze River, the wife couldn’t help but think of her hometown, Duisburg, which is situated at the confluence of the Rhine and Ruhr rivers and is also an industrial city.

Upon returning, she immediately wrote a letter to the then mayor of Duisburg, urging for a sister-city relationship between Duisburg and Wuhan, according to the local Wuhan newspaper, the Changjiang Daily.

Wuhan is located at the confluence of the Yangtze River and the Han River in Central China. It is an important industrial city with an excellent geographical location and convenient transportation by land, water, and air.

Duisburg, on the other hand, is a significant industrial city in the Ruhr area of western Germany. Situated at the confluence of the Ruhr River and the Rhine River, it is a crucial water and land transportation hub in Europe. Additionally, Duisburg is home to the world’s largest inland port — the Port of Duisburg.

“It was precisely because German friends who lived in Wuhan discovered that these two cities, whether in terms of geographical location or industrial structure, had such great similarities, that they felt a sense of home here, which prompted the two cities to desire to establish a sister-city relationship,” said Wu Min, executive president of the German Federation of Hubei Associations.

On Oct 8, 1982, Wuhan and Duisburg officially became sister cities. Since then, the two cities have enjoyed close cooperation in various fields such as science and education, economy and trade, transportation, culture and tourism, health, gardening, and sports, achieving fruitful results, Wuhan’s Mayor Cheng Yongwen said while meeting with a visiting delegation led by Soren Link, the mayor of Duisburg in March.

Cheng said that he hoped the two cities would further deepen exchanges and cooperation in a wider range of fields and at deeper levels. Adhering to the principle of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation, they aim to jointly promote more fruitful outcomes from the friendly interactions between the two cities, making greater contributions to the high-quality joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative and to enhancing the friendship between China and Germany.

In response, Link said Duisburg and Wuhan share a deep friendship and have broad prospects for cooperation. He hopes to continuously increase the intensity of exchanges, deepen practical and effective cooperation, and further compose a new chapter of cooperation between the two sister cities.

For over four decades, exchanges between these two cities have left many historical marks.

In 1984, Duisburg recommended the German expert Werner Gerich to provide technical consultation for the Wuhan Diesel Engine Factory, a State-owned enterprise. He was later appointed as its director, becoming the first “foreign factory director” in China after the reform and opening-up.

In 1987, Wuhan presented Duisburg with a gift, a Chinese-style garden. The Yingqu Garden, located within Duisburg Zoo, covers an area of approximately 5,400 square meters and was officially opened to the public in 1988, receiving great affection from the local people.

In Duisburg, elements of Wuhan can be seen quite often. In 2015, the German Federal Railway named a passenger train operating in the Ruhr area “Wuhan China Express”, the first time in its history that it named a passenger train after a foreign city. Duisburg also named a street and the largest conference hall after Wuhan.

Since the year 2000, Duisburg has held an annual dragon boat race, a traditional Chinese paddling sport, which attracts about 3,000 local and global participants each year. Wuhan has also sent teams to participate in the competition multiple times.

Trade with China mainly settled in yuan, rubles: Russian deputy PM

Aerial photo taken on Feb. 21, 2021 shows the first China-Europe freight train linking St. Petersburg of Russia with Chengdu departing the Chengdu International Railway Port in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province. Photo: Xinhua

Aerial photo taken on February 21, 2021 shows the first China-Europe freight train linking St. Petersburg of Russia with Chengdu departing the Chengdu International Railway Port in Chengdu, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province. Photo: Xinhua

About 92 percent of trade settlement between Russia and China is now conducted in Russian rubles and Chinese yuan, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk said on Wednesday at the ongoing Boao Forum for Asia in South China’s Hainan Province.

He also said that Russia hopes to strengthen financial ties with other countries to replace the US dollar in the international arena in the future, in a bid to ensure the stability and security of local currencies.

Overchuk’s remarks came amid growing emphasis by both sides on trade in local currency and de-dollarization efforts in a bid to reduce risks and costs. In July 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced at the 23rd Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that over 80 percent of trade settlement between Russia and China was conducted in Russian rubles and Chinese yuan, according to media reports.

Bilateral trade between China and Russia continues to show upward momentum, reaching $240.1 billion in 2023, up 26.3 percent from a year earlier. The figure was over $190 billion in 2022, with energy taking the key share.

China-Russia relations are a model of relations between major powers. When talking about the relationship between Russia and China, Overchuk emphasized that the dynamic and stable relationship between the two countries is based on mutual respect, equality, and years of profound historical exchanges between the two governments. Russia will continue to promote the growth of trade between the two countries and advance new interconnection projects, he said.

One of the prominent changes over the past 50 years has been the rise of the Global South, Overchuk said while addressing a sub-forum titled “The Rise of the Global South.” Faced with increasing global uncertainty, countries from the Global South should strengthen cooperation and unite to meet challenges, he said.

Overchuk also pointed out Russia’s willingness to strengthen cooperation with countries in the Global South in the field of cross-border trade and transportation infrastructure construction, saying that Russia hopes to expand market access and push for the building of international transportation corridors.

“We are currently seeing signs of anti-globalization and rising trade fragmentation in global markets, which requires us to strengthen cooperation and connections with our neighboring countries,” said Overchuk.

2024 marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia. The determination of China and Russia to work together hand in hand is even stronger, the foundation of generational friendship is more solid, and the prospects for comprehensive cooperation are even broader, Zhang Hanhui, the Chinese Ambassador to Russia, said in an interview with Tass on March 21.

China-France cooperation to set example for EU

China France File photo: cnsphoto

China France File photo: cnsphoto

As French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Stéphane Séjourné will kick off a visit to China on Monday, Chinese experts said on Sunday that economic and trade relations are the cornerstone of China-France bilateral ties, and the two countries have broad cooperation prospects in green development and technology innovation.

This type of bilateral cooperation has set a good example for the EU by adhering to the principle of mutual benefit and addressing differences through dialogue and consultation, experts said. 

On Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian announced that Séjourné will pay a visit to China on Monday at the invitation of Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi.

During Séjourné’s visit, the two countries are expected to focus on bilateral economic and trade relations, solving problems encountered in cooperation, and creating a better business environment for enterprises of both sides, Cong Yi, a professor at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times on Sunday.

In addition, they may strengthen communication and cooperation in international affairs and jointly address global challenges such as climate change and public health, Cong noted.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France. France will be the guest country of honor at the China International Fair for Trade in Services 2024 and the seventh China International Import Expo.

Over the past six decades, the two countries have adhered to mutual benefit and win-win outcomes, with economic and trade cooperation becoming increasingly closer, experts noted.

“China and France eye faster growth in traditional areas including agricultural products, aviation and civilian nuclear power,” Cong said.

Under the mechanism “from French farms to Chinese tables,” the two countries have reaped fruitful achievements in agricultural products. 

As an important source of China’s agricultural and food imports, France is China’s top agricultural import market and second-largest agricultural trading partner in the EU.

For many years, France has been the largest supplier of bottled still and sparkling wines to China. According to the China Association for Imports and Export of Wines and Spirits, China’s wine imports in 2022 amounted to about $1.43 billion, with an import volume of 335,300 kiloliters, of which three countries – France, Chile and Italy – accounted for nearly 80 percent. 

In 2022, France’s wine exports to China totaled $661.9 million.

In addition, France was the first Western country to sign an air transportation agreement with China and the first Western country to cooperate with China in civilian nuclear energy, according to

“The digital economy will become an important area of economic and trade cooperation between China and France. The two sides can launch in-depth collaboration in artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing and other fields,” Cong said.

The two countries also have extensive room for cooperation in the field of clean energy, and they can jointly develop and promote new-energy technologies to help transform the global energy structure, he noted.

Moreover, cooperation between China and France in the fields of the economy, trade, science and technology has demonstrated the broad prospects and great potential of China-EU cooperation, which has helped to enhance the confidence of both sides in cooperation between China and Europe, Cong said.