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.

Collective actions in Africa driving development, overcoming challenges

Aerial photo taken on May 8, 2018 shows the Chinese-built Maputo Cross-sea Bridge in Maputo, Mozambique. Photo: Xinhua

Aerial photo taken on May 8, 2018 shows the Chinese-built Maputo Cross-sea Bridge in Maputo, Mozambique. Photo: Xinhua

The rise of the Global South is being boosted as developing countries, African countries in particular, awaken to a sense of autonomy. They are actively putting forward their own proposals and solutions for global governance.

The recent Africa Pulse report by the World Bank projected that economic activity is set to rebound in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, the recovery remains fragile. Africa still needs to overcome significant challenges.

Compared with last year, the inflation rate of most African economies has decreased, averaging from 7.1 to 5.1 percent, but it is still higher than the level before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the global context of post-COVID recovery, Africa is facing three main challenges. If these problems can be solved, Africa will secure better development.

First, regional conflict and unrest are major obstacles to economic recovery in Africa. The World Bank report warned that increased conflict and violence in the region will continue to weigh on economic activity. The regional political unrest has led to the spread of extremism and violence. Foreign investment in Africa is increasingly taking into account the local security situation, leading to a lack of momentum in the economic recovery and growth in Africa.

Second, major-power rivalry is a factor that disrupts the development process for Africa. The African continent is home to many underdeveloped countries and is a key region for the United Nations’ “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” However, in a multipolar world, countries like the US and Japan are engaging in competition with emerging market countries, making it difficult for African countries to avoid the dilemma of “taking sides.” As a result, Africa’s development process is being hindered by major-power rivalry.

The US has repeatedly threatened to cut off aid to African countries for engaging in trade with Russia. The rise in youth unemployment in Africa has fueled discontent with pro-Western governments on the continent. The shadow of a “new cold war” has loomed over the African continent, making the development agenda difficult to advance.

By 2023, progress had been made in over half of African countries toward climate action goals and responsible consumption and production goals. However, the other 15 of the 17 UN sustainable development goals are facing various challenges, with 10 of them not being achieved in any African country. African countries are also facing challenges in achieving the zero hunger goal.

Third, the burden of debt is a chronic problem that restricts economic growth in Africa. After the 2008 international financial crisis, and the decline in prices of international commodities such as oil, metals, and agricultural products, the debt risks faced by African countries increased again. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem. At the same time, the increase in debt obligations has directly caused liquidity problems, squeezing out development expenditure, and making it more difficult and costly to obtain external financing.

In recent years, South-South cooperation has injected momentum into development. With Ethiopia officially becoming a member of the BRICS mechanism, the collective cohesion of developing countries has been further strengthened, enabling them to address their development challenges through regularized mechanism cooperation and targeted solutions.

The African Continental Free Trade Area is moving in the right direction, with African countries collectively promoting liberalization and integration of trade within the region. The Belt and Road Initiative is helping to drive shared development benefits for many African countries, providing more development funds and diverse options for Africa’s recovery and development. It is believed that African countries will be able to explore their own development models and paths through South-South cooperation, making greater contributions to global economic growth.

It is estimated that by 2050, the population of Africa will account for nearly a quarter of the world’s population, making the development prospects of Africa crucial for the stability and sustainable development of the global economy. However, the current growth of the African economy is still slow and insufficient to provide a significant contribution to poverty reduction. The international community should pay more attention to development issues in Africa with a rational and objective attitude, and make continuous efforts for the lasting peace and common development of human society.

The author is a professor with School of International Relations and Diplomacy, Beijing Foreign Studies University. [email protected]

Ample China-Saudi synergy shown as Aramco seeks Hengli Petrochemical stake

Illustration: Xia Qing/GT

Illustration: Xia Qing/GT

Saudi oil giant Aramco said on Monday it is in talks with Hengli Group to acquire a 10 percent stake in a subsidiary of the Chinese firm that specializes in refining and petrochemicals. The negotiations mark the latest efforts by Aramco to bolster its downstream presence in China.

Middle East investors looking to gain more exposure in China are increasingly attracted to the nation’s fast-growing consumer market and abundant opportunities for supply chain cooperation. Aramco’s case serves as a good example of this trend.

With a memorandum of understanding signed between Aramco and Hengli, the Saudi oil giant stated that the deal aligns with its strategy to expand its downstream presence in key high-value markets, advance its liquids-to-chemicals program and secure long-term crude oil supply agreements.

The global shift toward a low-carbon economy poses a threat to energy companies’ business models and long-term profitability, prompting them to enhance their competitiveness through innovation. Take the example of Aramco, observers believe that China is becoming increasingly important for Aramco’s ambitions to convert 4 million barrels per day of its oil production into higher-value chemicals. That is why the Saudi oil giant has been closely monitoring opportunities in China’s petrochemical industry.

In 2023, Aramco acquired a 10 percent stake in Shenzhen-listed Rongsheng Petrochemical. Aramco’s joint-venture company, Huajin Aramco Petrochemical Co, announced last year that it planned to start construction of a major integrated refinery and petrochemical complex in Northeast China.

As these efforts continue to advance, cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia has seen diversified development beyond traditional energy trade. Saudi Deputy Minister of Investment Saleh Khabti was quoted by the Xinhua News Agency in October 2023 as saying that China has strengths in infrastructure, high-tech and logistics, so the possibilities of the two countries’ business cooperation are “unlimited.”

Saleh Khabti also mentioned that Saudi Arabia’s investment in China more than doubled in 2023 and Saudi Arabia is open to Chinese investors.

Saudi Arabia has also become a focus of investment by Chinese companies. The economic structures of the two countries are highly complementary. China is a major energy importer with a mature manufacturing sector and a complete industrial chain. Saudi Arabia’s economy is undergoing a transformation, as it implements reforms to reduce its oil dependence, invests in the downstream petrochemicals industry and diversifies its income sources.

This expanding and diversified bilateral cooperation is a clear example of how China remains an important market and investment destination for Middle East investors, despite some Western media outlets spreading a false narrative that China’s attractiveness to foreign investment has declined. 

Cooperation between China and the Middle East is primarily focused on common development, without any conspiracies or political motivations. This partnership aligns with the regional economic development needs and will inject new driving forces into the economic and social development.

China’s high-level economic opening-up includes increased institutional openness, expanded market access and improved services for foreign investors. As China continues to further open its doors to foreign enterprises and attract more investment from other countries, it will facilitate the opening-up of sectors such as energy, refining and petrochemicals to create more trade and investment opportunities for foreign investors.

For some time, there have been reports and comments in Western media outlets hyping claims of “foreign capital fleeing China.” These reports do not match the facts. With China continuously improving the quality of investment and promoting the development of mutually beneficial cooperation, it is moving toward high-quality development.

Aramco’s enthusiasm for China’s market serves as evidence of China’s good performance in attracting foreign investment and accelerating development. China will follow its own speed and rhythm in opening up its economy to foreign investors. 

Western observers don’t need to point fingers at China, because their biased narratives that “foreign capital is fleeing China” won’t affect China’s attractiveness to foreign investment.

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

US accusation of ‘overcapacity’ in China a discourse trap to contain green industries: expert

Workers assemble a new-energy vehicle (NEV) in a factory in Jinhua, East China's Zhejiang Province on October 25, 2023. In the first nine months of this year, China exported 825,000 NEVs, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers shows. Photo: VCG

Workers assemble a new-energy vehicle (NEV) in a factory in Jinhua, East China’s Zhejiang Province on October 25, 2023. In the first nine months of this year, China exported 825,000 NEVs, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers shows. Photo: VCG

The penetration rate of China’s passenger new-energy vehicles (NEVs) exceeded 50 percent in the first half of April, as reported by China Central Television (CCTV) on Sunday, outperforming traditional fuel passenger vehicles and marking the rapid development of the NEV sector in China amid full market competition.

The US accusation of “overcapacity” in China is a discourse trap that aims to contain China’s development of green industries amid its growing international competitiveness, Chinese observers said, stressing that the increasing self-isolation of the US will disrupt global automobile industrial and supply chains and eventually harm the interests of American consumers.

From April 1 to 14, retail sales of passenger NEVs stood at 260,000 units, up 32 percent year-on-year, according to data from the China Passenger Car Association. 

It means that the penetration rate of passenger NEVs reached 50.39 percent, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Sunday.

The latest data underscored the rapid development of China’s NEV sector amid market competition, with more consumers choosing to buy NEVs due to their lower prices, better experience and other factors, Wu Shuocheng, a veteran automobile analyst, told the Global Times on Sunday.

“There is no such thing as ‘overcapacity’ in China’s NEV sector, although the supply of cars sometimes outpaces demand due to market fluctuations. The production capacity [of NEVs] that could meet consumers’ upgrading demand remains insufficient,” Wu said.

While the US has kept hyping the “overcapacity” issue, China has opened its door wider and wider. In 2019, US carmaker Tesla built its first Gigafactory outside the US in Shanghai, which gave a boost to the development of the NEV industry amid competition.

Tesla on Sunday cut the price of its Model 3 from 245,900 yuan ($34,630) to 231,900 yuan, and now offers the Model Y from 249,900 yuan onward, compared with 263,900 yuan previously, according to the company’s China website.

Li Yong, a senior research fellow at the China Association of International Trade, attributed the advantages of China’s NEV industry to technological accumulation, globally competitive industrial clusters and agile supply chains.

“Compared with some countries that have failed to develop industrial chains or key technologies during the development of the NEV industry, China has achieved a globally leading position in innovation, technology application and interior design, enabling Chinese NEVs to meet the demand of international consumers,” Li told the Global Times on Sunday.

The US hyping of China’s “overcapacity” is a discourse trap that aims to curb China’s NEV exports and contain China’s NEV development, Li said. He said that the ratio of exports to production for Chinese NEVs is far lower than those of Germany, Japan and South Korea. 

“If these countries haven’t seen overcapacity, the US shouldn’t put that label on China,” he said.

According to a forecast by the International Energy Agency in 2023, global sales of electric vehicles are set to reach 45 million in 2030. That is about 4.5 times the sales recorded in 2022, underscoring that the global supply of new-energy products is not in excess but is actually insufficient.

“By resorting to protectionist measures, Washington’s resistance to competition for the nurturing of the backward local industry will harm the technological advances by the US and disrupt global industrial and supply chains,” Li said.

China’s Foreign Ministry on Friday blasted the US accusation of “overcapacity” in China as “economic coercion and bullying.” 

“Those who use overcapacity to justify protectionism have nothing to gain and will only destabilize global industrial and supply chains, harm emerging sectors and hinder the world’s climate response and green transition,” the ministry said.

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.

China shifts focus to high-quality economic development, fostering emerging industries

Industrial robots are operating on an intelligent production line in a smart manufacturing enterprise in Yangzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province. Photo: VCG

Industrial robots are operating on an intelligent production line in a smart manufacturing enterprise in Yangzhou, East China’s Jiangsu Province. Photo: VCG

China is taking efforts to cultivate new quality productive forces, signaling a move from high-speed to high-quality economic growth. The transition encompasses a broad spectrum of initiatives, showing concerted efforts in fostering emerging industries and upgrading traditional sectors of the economy.

In a series of press conferences held recently highlighting high-quality development, regional governments, such as North China’s Beijing, East China’s Zhejiang Province and Jiangsu Province underscored their commitments to industrial upgrade and new policies in fostering new quality productive forces.

Among the regions, Jiangsu is promoting the development of strategic emerging industry clusters, focusing on building a future-oriented industrial system, according to Xu Kunlin, Jiangsu Provincial Governor, during a press conference on Tuesday. “We are advancing the digital and smart transformation of manufacturing, aiming to solidify and expand the advantages of traditional industries.”

Experts view this period as a critical phase in China’s economic transformation, emphasizing the shift toward high-quality development with the construction of new quality productive forces being the key.

China’s economic structure is undergoing transformation, moving from a focus on the quantity of development to prioritizing the quality of development, thereby promoting economic restructuring or optimization, Cao Heping, an economist at Peking University, told the Global Times.

The foundation of China’s high-quality development and economic transformation remain solid. China’s high-quality economic development is supported by its strong industrial base, vast market, and abundant capital and labor resources, said Li Xuesong, director of the Institute of Quantitative and Technological Economics of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

The press conferences have collectively spotlighted the development of new quality productive forces, with Jiangsu playing a crucial role. “Jiangsu aims to become a globally influential industrial technology innovation center, fostering deep integration between technological and industrial innovation,” Xu Kunlin stated.

Jiangsu is placing a renewed emphasis on basic research and industrial upgrade, leveraging companies as the main source of innovation. This year, the province has established a special fund for basic research, amounting to 2.48 billion yuan ($342.7 million), aimed at supporting the provincial laboratory system and conducting basic research projects.

Furthermore, Jiangsu is focusing on the development of emerging industries, including hosting the Global 6G Conference 2024 in Nanjing, which will feature participation from international organizations, universities and core companies, with a focus on technological innovation, strategy and cooperation.

China’s innovation capabilities and investments in research and development have pushed the high-quality development of its industries, achieving digital transformation of traditional industries and rapid development of high-tech industries, according to Shi Dan, director of the Institute of Industrial Economics under CASS.

In addition to local government initiatives, China’s banking sector is also increasing its support for the development of new quality productive forces. As of the end of 2023, the Bank of China’s loan balance for strategic emerging industries exceeded 1.9 trillion yuan, increasing by over 830 billion yuan, marking a year-on-year rise of 74 percent, according to media reports.

“This demonstrates our commitment to transforming the development of new quality productive forces into concrete actions for financial services to the real economy,” stated Liu Jin, president of the Bank of China.

Western media’s criticism of China’s new quality productive forces reveals hypocrisy: Canadian scholar

Economists' VIEW logo


A view of Shanghai's Lujiazui area, a major financial zone in China Photo: VCG

A view of Shanghai’s Lujiazui area, a major financial zone in China Photo: VCG

Observers in China and abroad agree that China has embarked on a new era of structural transformation, or the third phase of national development following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China and the commencement of reform and opening-up in late 1970s.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang’s Government Work Report put “Striving to modernize the industrial system and developing new quality productive forces at a faster pace” at the top of the list of 10 goals to be achieved, elaborating that “We should give full rein to the leading role of innovation, spur industrial innovation by making innovations in science and technology and press ahead with new industrialization” to foster new growth drivers and promote a new leap forward in the country’s productive forces.

The Western media has taken note of the new guiding phrase “new quality productive forces,” which illustrates the country is entering a new stage of structural transformation based on homegrown innovation. However, the Western media again criticize China for not prioritizing domestic consumption sufficiently, and allege China is flooding the world with cheap high-tech products. What the Western media really want to achieve is trying to stymie China’s growth.

Reducing the investment proportion of China’s GDP while merely focusing on consumption will most likely stall China’s growth engine. Countries investing considerably less, like most G7 countries, have seen very low growth rates.

And China has always weighted on ramping up domestic consumption, including fostering “new services of greater inclusivity, accessibility and opportunity,” to provide greater life satisfaction, family happiness and new consumption patterns of digitally-enhanced culture and tourism. China’s rising levels of consumption have also rested on its high investment-powered growth and the trend will remain in the next phase of national growth. 

In criticizing China for flooding the market with inexpensive high-tech products, the West is actually complaining that China is contributing to many other countries’ development with quality goods at a price considerably lower than the imperialistic and monopolistic West used to charge the developing countries.

This not only exposes the West’s hypocrisy in keeping up frenetic talk of the third world’s development while engaging in practices that have held it back, it also highlights China’s historic role in making the technology that will drive development more accessible.

As for the so-called China’s interference in market mechanism, the fact is that those “market-friendly” neoliberal countries are mired in low growths, have become productively weakened and financialized, while China has skillfully combined markets and government regulation and kept markets working for the public good.

The article is based on a speech delivered by Radhika Desai, Professor at the Department of Political Studies of the University of Manitoba, at a recent symposium in Beijing. [email protected]

BRI partners to embrace potential amid clean transformation

An aerial photo taken on May 22, 2023 showing a comprehensive inspection train running along the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway in Indonesia. Photo: cnsphoto

An aerial photo taken on May 22, 2023 showing a comprehensive inspection train running along the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway in Indonesia. Photo: cnsphoto

Amid a global low-carbon transition and ramped-up efforts for combating climate change, green development has become a focal point for the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2024 in South China’s Hainan Province from Tuesday to Friday, with a spotlight on the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its efforts to bolster the sustainable development for partner countries. 

Since the BRI’s inception more than 10 years ago, it has embarked on an ambitious journey and enhanced global connectivity and cooperation through infrastructure, Ban Ki-moon, the former UN secretary-general, said at a subforum themed “Financing a Greener ‘Belt and Road’ on Thursday.

As 2024 is the opening year of the second decade for the BRI, its progress in achieving green transformation will bring more cooperation and potential for partner countries to explore in the field of clean energy.

New decade, new opportunity 

Senior officials from BRI partner countries who attended the subforum highlighted the strong cooperation established through the BRI, while expecting to further consolidate and extend the momentum under the green development.

For instance, Columbia is currently working on diversifying investment to its domestic rural sector, which will be a very good opportunity for Chinese investors, Carlos Eduardo Enriquez Caicedo, vice minister of transport from Columbia, told the Global Times on Thursday, adding that the subway project funded by Chinese companies is the most important project,

Caicedo noted that China and Columbia can further extend cooperation related to electrical vehicles specifically for taxis along with other sectors. He said that Columbia wants to invest in 45,000 vehicles that are allocated to taxis, aiming work with Chinese companies like BYD. 

Laos and China have a long-standing and very productive partnership, Phonevanh Outhavon, vice minister of planning and investment from Laos, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Outhavon noted that large green BRI investments can be developed along the China-Laos Railway. She expected more cooperation to be born from the milestone project while more investment can be dedicated to promote sustainable development.  

Moving forward, utilizing smart technologies in key sectors such as infrastructure construction and agriculture will be a major focus for bolstering green development under the BRI framework, Song Wei, a professor at the School of International Relations and Diplomacy at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

With China being a leader in clean technology from electrical buses to solar panels and batteries, exporting the technology and providing finance can have a very large influence on the green transition in Asia, Frank Rijsberman, director general of Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), told reporters on Thursday.  

 The integration of smart technologies as part of BRI cooperation will be conducive to promoting the economic upgrade and transformation of emerging economies, while China at the same time offers targeted support for BRI partner countries to make strides toward technical development, Song said. 

China’s massive manufacturing base and its speed to deliver renewable system are very important tools for timely delivery of projects on ground, Nishant Bhardwaj, global sector lead- renewable energy and deputy director at GGGI, told the Global Times on the sidelines of the BFA. 

Bhardwaj noted that China is investing significantly in new technology development and low-carbon transformation, so it will play a very important role in promoting the global clean energy transition,

All-round efforts 

As BRI partner countries are mainly developing economies, they may previously have sacrificed environment for achieving GDP growth, Song said. But the initiative has been prioritizing the green development while helping partner countries advance their economic progress since it was initially launched, she noted. 

China jointly launched the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on Green Development together with 31 countries. The BRI International Green Development Coalition, which was launched by the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment with its partners from home and abroad in 2019, now consists of more than 150 partners from 43 countries, including the environmental authorities of 26 countries as of August 2023.  

 China has made available its experience and technologies related to green development and governance with BRI partner countries in a wide range of fields such as environment management, advancing green economy, and utilizing renewable energy, Song said. 

For instance, China is the only country in the world to have fully mastered Ultra High Voltage (UHV) core technology and possess a full set of equipment manufacturing capabilities. China has actively carried out international energy cooperation with the countries surrounding the BRI and integrated UHV transmission technology, standards and equipment, general engineering contracting, operation and management of the entire industry chain, and the entire value chain have been successfully exported internationally, according to the BFA Sustainable Development: Asia and the World Annual Report 2024.

Chinese modernization to inject strong impetus into world economy, top legislator says at Boao Forum

Zhao Leji, chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2024 in South China's Hainan Province on March 28, 2024. Photo: Xinhua

Zhao Leji, chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2024 in South China’s Hainan Province on March 28, 2024. Photo: Xinhua

China’s top legislator Zhao Leji on Thursday reaffirmed China’s commitment to continuously opening its market to the world. He said that Chinese modernization through high-quality development will inject strong impetus into the global economy during a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2024. 

At the BFA opening plenary session in Boao, South China’s Hainan Province, regional and world leaders, including Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, commended China’s critical role and great contribution to global peace and development in Asia and around the world through its high-quality development and various global initiatives.

The BFA kicked off on Tuesday, one day after the China Development Forum (CDF) concluded in Beijing. Both the BFA and the CDF drew several regional and global leaders, multinational executives and academics. This year’s BFA and CDF carried extra significance, as Chinese officials, through dozens of meetings, clearly mapped out the path for high-quality development and opening-up, which has obviously boosted confidence among the participants, experts said. 

China opportunities

“China is advancing Chinese modernization on all fronts with high-quality development, which will inject strong impetus into the world economy, and provide more opportunities for the development of all countries, especially our neighbors in Asia,” Zhao, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s  top legislature, said at the opening plenary of the BFA on Thursday. 

Noting a series of Chinese efforts to foster innovation-led, open and green development, Zhao said that China’s door to the world will never close, but will only open wider, while inviting countries and businesses around the world to invest in China.   

“Investing in China is investing in the future. All countries are sincerely welcome to board the express train of China’s development and join hands to work for a global modernization featuring peaceful development, mutually beneficial cooperation and prosperity for all,” Zhao said, as he urged all parties to reinforce confidence and join hands to build a community with a shared future for mankind, and create a better future for Asia and the world at large amid serious and complicated global challenges.

This message of China’s commitment to high-quality development and high-standard opening-up has been reiterated by Chinese officials at both the CDF, which drew more than 100 international guests, including dozens of global CEOs, and the BFA, which has brought about 2,000 participants, including heads of states, from more than 60 countries. The message has also resonated well with many participants. 

At the opening plenary of the BFA Annual Conference on Thursday morning, several regional and world leaders commended China’s approach of openness, peace and development, while also rejecting protectionism and unilateralism.  

“Indeed, we meet today against a backdrop of unprecedented global uncertainty, fueled by geopolitical turbulence and economic upheaval,” Tokayev said at the opening session, noting that while challenges lie ahead, Asia is well positioned to continue driving global growth and development in the years to come. 

“In this regard, the Boao Forum has emerged as an embodiment of the Asian innovative approach to achieving universal economic progress. It has also established itself as a prominent symbol of China’s commitment toward global development,” the Kazakh president said. 

Based in China, the BFA has become a premium platform for discussions on regional and global affairs since its inception over two decades ago. And the forum continues to gain popularity and prominence, as more countries are participating in the BFA Annual Conference and more countries and regions join in the platform. 

This year, Nauru, a Pacific Island country, participated in the BFA Annual Conference for the first time, Nauruan President David Adeang said in remarks at the opening plenary session in Boao. 

“I am honored to be here to share our perspectives as a Pacific, small island, developing state. We are grateful for this forum, for providing this critical platform to address the pressing challenges that confront the Asia-Pacific region and the world,” said Adeang, who has been in China for a state visit after the two countries recently established diplomatic ties.

“Nauru has recently established bilateral relations with China to recognize and support wholeheartedly the one-China principle. This partnership puts Nauru on the right side of its history and benefits both our nations and fosters mutual respect developments and prosperity,” Adeang said. He noted that China’s vision for promoting economic globalization and creating new prospects for growth and development is vital for small countries such as Nauru.

Boosting confidence

Such sentiments toward China’s contributions to regional and global development have been echoed by other participants throughout the BFA Annual Conference in Boao, showing that China’s clear signal of continuous development and opening-up has boosted confidence among government officials, business executives and academia. 

“What really stood out at this year’s CDF and the BFA is that China clearly laid out its path for high-quality development and cooperation with the rest of the world. This has drawn great enthusiasm among foreign guests in our discussions,” Wang Yiwei, a professor at the School of International Relations at Renmin University of China, who attended both the CDF in Beijing and the BFA in Boao, told the Global Times on Thursday. “There have been some noises claiming that China talks a lot about opening-up, but hasn’t done enough. However, this time China has shown concrete steps.”

In recent months, China has taken a slew of measures to further open its market to the world. It has waived visa requirements for citizens of many countries in Asia and Europe, boosting people-to-people exchanges. This year’s Government Work Report said that China will lift all restrictions on foreign investment in the manufacturing sector. It has released a nationwide negative list for the services sector, which further expanded access for foreign businesses. It has also issued a 24-point action plan to improve business environment and attract foreign investment. 

Despite China’s concrete opening-up measures, Western media outlets, in their relentless campaign to smear the Chinese economy, have been painting a picture of deteriorating environment in China for foreign businesses. But over the past week or so at both the CDF and the BFA, senior Chinese officials’ back-to-back meetings with multinational business executives put on a vivid display of China’s openness, in contrast to some Western governments’ rising protectionism and hostility toward foreign businesses.

Some foreign experts attending the BFA also said that China’s business environment has improved and the country has become more attractive for global businesses. 

In addition to China’s continuous opening-up, China’s clear path to pursuing innovation-led and green development has also drawn great interest from foreign officials, business leaders and academics at both the CDF and the BFA. “As China made the path clear for innovation and green transition, they are very interested,” Wang said. 

“China has shown the world how to build renewable energy assets at scale, it has shown us how to drive down the cost of renewable energy, and… it must show us how to use them,” Andrew Forrest, chairman and founder of Australian iron ore giant Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), said at the BFA on Thursday, according to a transcript FMG sent to the Global Times.

Forrest enthusiastically called for cooperation among Asian countries to protect the environment and tackle climate change. “Once again, Asia, we can be the example, we can be the proof of what a peaceful, pollution free world must follow,” he said, adding that fostering cooperation to improve the standard of living for everyone is what the BFA stands for. 

Western nations should value opportunities arising from China’s EV boom

Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

Chinese consumer electronics giant Xiaomi held its second round of online orders for its first electric vehicle (EV), the SU7, which quickly sold out just like the first round did after its debut on Thursday.

Many other EV brands have experienced an increase in sales over the weekend, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun posted on Weibo on Sunday, which shows the wide range of market opportunities that come with China’s EV boom. This trend deserves attention from Western countries that have failed to rationally view the rapid development of China’s EV industry and are leaning toward protectionism.

These hot EV sales have drawn significant attention from Western media outlets, which exaggerate the threat of competition from the Xiaomi EV. They’ve evidently put their focus on the wrong things.

Some foreign media commentators have claimed that the hot sales of Xiaomi’s EV are not a good sign for Western car manufacturers. They are keen on comparing Xiaomi with Porsche and Tesla. The cost-effective Xiaomi EV has indeed put pressure on competitors. 

However, exaggerating the competitive pressure and demonizing Chinese products clearly distorts the facts and is extremely misleading.

It is precisely this kind of distorted thinking that has led Western countries to irrationally view China’s rapidly developing EV sector with a sense of anxiety. They have taken protectionist measures against the competition it brings, while also trying to label Chinese products with unfounded accusations of “accepting subsidies” and “dumping.”

For instance, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday claimed that China is treating the global economy as a dumping ground for its cheaper solar panels and EVs, depressing market prices and squeezing green manufacturing in the US, CNBC reported.

The Chinese side has already responded multiple times to the groundless “dumping” accusations made by Western countries. The unfair moves against Chinese products by the West go against the principles of free trade. This is harmful and unhelpful for their own development, and is a typical lose-lose approach.

Chinese EV companies are definitely not “dumping low-priced products,” as accused by the West. Instead, they provide cost-effective products for consumers in both the domestic and international markets while complying with trade rules. For example, Xiaomi’s first car has been well-received in the market due to various factors. Top among them is its outstanding cost-effectiveness.

Western countries should adopt an objective and impartial perspective on the rapid growth of China’s EV industry, recognizing that it presents not only competition but also significant opportunities for collaboration and mutual benefit. These opportunities are advantageous for the advancement of the EV industry and the transition to EVs in Western countries.

While protectionist practices artificially interfere with China’s free trade and industry chain cooperation, Western countries should see the huge consumption potential of the Chinese EV market, the support of mature industry chains, and the business environment that boosts innovation, which are not only major opportunities for Xiaomi, but also for foreign car companies.

Xiaomi’s swift launch of its own EV in just a few years is mainly due to the rapid development of the overall EV industry in China. In 2023, output and sales of EVs in China reached new highs, supporting China’s auto exports to surpass those of Japan and making China the world’s largest car exporter.

The reason for the strong growth in production and sales of EVs in China lies in the forward-looking industrial policy layout, comprehensive industry chain support, and internal driving forces generated by technological innovation.

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun stated in an interview with the media that Beijing is still a fertile ground for innovation and entrepreneurship, and it has also given birth to Xiaomi’s car. 

The EV transition of Western countries has encountered setbacks, and one reason is protectionism. It is hoped Western countries can quickly break out of the vicious cycle. 

Take the US EV sector as an example. Despite the US EV industry has Tesla and once held a leading position, it now lags behind firms from China and Germany. This year, the development plan of the EV industry has slowed down. One of the main reasons is the high cost. The average selling price of an EV is about $13,000 more than fuel vehicles in the US, according to media reports.

It is hoped that Western politicians have the courage and wisdom to rationally face the competition and cooperation opportunities brought by the rapid development of China’s EV industry. If they continue to be swayed by protectionism and adopt unfair practices toward Chinese products, industry chain cooperation will be further damaged.

It should be a win-win situation. The Chinese market is open to foreign car companies. Strengthening industrial chain cooperation is not only beneficial for the development of foreign car companies, but also promotes the rapid development of the global EV industry.

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