Chinese soccer still languishing as World Cup hopes seem faint

Criticism of China's national men's soccer team is raging again after recent disappointing matches, and the debate continues about how to find the right track for the development of soccer in China.

The team produced a drab draw with Malaysia at the weekend and suffered a 0-1 defeat to Syria in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province on Tuesday.

The two warm-up matches were designed to offer stylistic similarities to Thailand and South Korea, whom China will take on in the second round of the World Cup 2026 Asian qualifiers that are set to kick off in November. 

Even though an expanded format for the 2026 tournament in the US, Canada and Mexico will allow more teams from Asia to qualify, China' s hopes appear to be slim.

The recent results reinforced a fact that many fans have been reluctant to accept: China has descended to the middle and lower echelons of Asian football. 

Malaysia is not the same team that China faced a few years ago, but China has found itself stuck in a rut. 

It was the national team's attitude that outraged the public. In the nine minutes of stoppage time during the game against Malaysia, Chinese players retreated into their shells and wasted time by passing from side to side at the back as if on course to victory. 

Head Coach Aleksandar Jankovic felt embarrassed and apologized to the fans after the game. In the second game against Syria, the team moved up a gear and accelerated the pace of passing and pressing. However, the Syrian goalkeeper produced a string of brilliant saves to earn some relief for the war-torn country.

In the World Cup Asian qualifiers in 2019, the then head coach Marcello Lippi quit in a huff after a 1-2 defeat to Syria. 

The gap between China and the Asian powerhouses was made more stark as Japan coasted to a 4-1 win over Germany and saw off Turkey 4-2 in their warm-up matches.

Midfielder Xie Pengfei was the only redeeming feature of this lackluster team as his incisive runs and telling passes sparked some life in an ineffectual attacking line headed by Wu Lei and nationalized Ai Kesen.

"We need to find the right track and keep moving forward. We will not flinch when encountering difficulties. Perseverance is needed to be successful in football. We hope to get everyone's support and we will not give up," Xie said after the defeat to Syria.

Chinese soccer has been derailed from the right track for a long time, and there have been problems with personnel in the governing body. 

A total of 14 people ranging from the chief of the Chinese Football Association to head coach of the national team have been put under investigation since November. The governing positions appear to have become a way for people to pursue their personal interests instead of driving the development of soccer. 

China will not get out of the deadlock until the authorities reflect on the missteps and map out a path that conforms to the development of soccer. There is no easy way to stop the rot.

Fighting for a place in the 2026 world cup is not the primary goal. It is more important to step back and see if teenage Chinese soccer players are on the right track and what can be done to promote the development of soccer across the country. 

Young dominators: ‘Chinese table tennis being shared with the world’ has become a reality

Editor's Note: 

Young Chinese people in the new era are confident, aspirational and responsible. With a global vision, they stand at the forefront of the times, ready to fully commit to a more global outlook. Chinese people accept and quickly respond to the world's trending schools of thought. Some members of China's Generation Z have started to practice the tenets of their "global citizen" identity and use their thought processes and actions to influence the society. The Global Times has therefore launched a series of introductory stories to China's Gen Zers who are interested in different global topics such as environmental protection, equality, and employment issues, and invites them to share their stories, sentiments, and ideas on social media platforms.

As the match point arrived, the stadium with nearly 6000 seats sat in silence. When the last ball landed, accompanied by a tsunami of cheers from the crowd,  celebrating with fist pumps, shouts, and embraces, raising the Five-Star Red Flags to show their sincere gratitude to the audience and the country they beloved. 

Similar scenes unfolded six times during the table tennis competition at the 19th Asian Games held in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province. Generation Zers Sun Yingsha, Fan Zhendong and Wang Chuqin, the absolute mainstays of the Chinese table tennis team, presented a lot of world-class pinnacle competitions with players from different countries and regions in a firm and confident manner. 

Compared with the older generation, this group of world champions, who are blowing up a storm of youth, are more confident in expressing their love for table tennis, their desire to enjoy the game regardless of winners and losers, as well as their courage in communicating with the outside world to build up a more positive and united force, adding a more contemporary and vibrant expression to this sport, which is considered the national game by the Chinese people.

Enjoy the game

"When the last ball landed, the first thing I recognized about my performance was that it was very good," Sun, who was born in 2000, the current world No. 1 in women's singles, said while answering a question from the Global Times during a post-match interview on October 1, 2023.

And in a subsequent interview with the Global Times, Sun said she has gained a lot from the Hangzhou Asian Games. "Compared with the Asian Games in Jakarta five years ago, I have taken on more responsibility, but compared with the pressure, I am also more motivated, and am satisfied with my play."

In Jakarta in 2018, the enduring impression left by Sun to the public was a cute little girl with a round face and eyes. There is no Tokyo Olympic gold medal, Houston and Durban mixed doubles champions. At that time, Sun represented the national table tennis team in the women's team and mixed doubles events.

Five years later, Sun took the oath as a representative of the participating athletes at the opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Games, and competed in women's singles, doubles, team and mixed doubles, winning gold medals in three of them.

"I feel very proud to be sworn in as an athlete representative at a major international competition hosted by my country. To be able to fight on home soil, there were also many fans who came to cheer me on, I told myself to focus on every game on the field, and I hope I can really enjoy the feeling that the game brings to me. I didn't think too much about the result," Sun said.

But for Sun, the Asian Games in Hangzhou is not without regrets. Earlier, in a shock result, women's doubles world No. 1s Sun and Wang Manyu lost 1-3 to Japanese duo Miwa Harimoto and Miu Hirano.

Sun admitted that after the defeat, both her coach and her partner gave her a lot of encouragement so that she could adjust quickly be ready to face the next match. But she also told the Global Times that such a defeat is precious and needs to be fully faced, and that she will take stock of the loss after the game.

Fan, the world's number one men's singles table tennis player, also tasted defeat at the Asian Games. In the table tennis men's singles final on October 2nd, Fan lost 3-4 to his teammate Wang and won the silver medal. After the match, Fan told the Global Times that he was still very happy with his performance in his third Asian Games he attended. 

"Being able to participate in the Asian Games in China and be a torchbearer is a great honor for me. It is a recognition of my past achievements. I also really wanted to win the final singles match and defend my title, but both of us played very well in the final. I feel a little regret for my lost, but not enough to be disappointed," he said.

Fan, who is 26 years old this year, made his debut in the Asian Games in 2014 in Incheon, South Korea. Starting his career at a young age and gaining fame early, Fan admitted that he felt "not very young" anymore. However, he still hopes to focus on the competition and give his all in every match, using his superb skills and competitive state to bring more positive energy to his teammates and fans who love him.

Valuing heritage

23-year-old Wang, who took home four championships in the table tennis men's team, singles, doubles, and mixed doubles, becoming the first person in the history of table tennis at the Asian Games, first to expressed his gratitude to the country for its cultivation in an interview with the Global Times. 

Wang noted that China's nationwide system allows athletes to train in a world-class environment. "At the same time, the Chinese table tennis team is a strong team, with a lot of world champions, allowing us - the younger generation - to constantly progress and improve in a fine tradition."

"When you wear the national flag on your uniform, you represent Team China. The honor of this collective is passed down through generations through unremitting efforts, and we will do our best to defend it," Wang said.

However, Wang also noted that in competitive sports, no one can maintain their peak state forever and there can never be eternal victory. "This is also the charm of competitive sports."

In the men's and women's team finals of the Hangzhou Asian Games, the Chinese team defeated their opponents 3-0. The coaches of the Chinese table tennis team told media that although they ultimately won the matches, the process was not easy and the women's doubles event failing to reach the top four made the whole team realize that the competition in the world of table tennis is becoming increasingly fierce.

"Winning championships in table tennis may seem easy for the Chinese team, but in fact, every member of our team has put in unimaginable efforts in various aspects throughout this process. For us, it has always been about striving for first place, not just maintaining it," Fan said.

In the current world of table tennis, the level of athletes from various countries and regions is getting closer, Fan pointed out. "Every competition and major event requires us to give our all to achieve good results." 

But for Fan and Wang, this kind of competition is positive and necessary. "We are also looking forward to these challenges, which are in fact mutual promotion that can further improve and develop the Chinese table tennis team," Fan said.

More open and international

"Play the fiercest ball on the court, and be the most sincere and lovely teenager in life." This is a popular comment of this group of all-powerful table tennis made by their young Chinese fans. 

And it's not just the fans who are attracted to them. 

On the first match day for the table tennis at the Hangzhou Asian Games on September 22, when Fan was warming up on the sidelines, a foreign coach took the initiative to shake hands with him. The handshake between them conveyed the friendship and respect built on this sport. 

After the women's team first round match, Team Macao player Seak Hui-li specifically took a photo with Sun with her racket, which also received a friendly response from her idol. 

After the women's team semi-finals, Korean athlete Jeon Jihee happily revealed in an interview that she exchanged pins with Sun. 

Despite the tight schedule of the competition, Sun still lived up to her title as the "pin exchange master" with her actions. 

"If I meet someone have pins I like or find cute, I will think about exchanging with them. We are all friends," Sun told the Global Times. 

With the promotion of this more open and international Gen Zers, the slogan of the Chinese Table Tennis Association, "Chinese table tennis is shared with the world," has become a reality. 

Sun, Fan and Wang told the Global Times that they love table tennis and hope to connect with more like-minded people through the sport. As idol for many despite their young age, they hope that more young people, like them, focus on what they love, can always go forward, ultimately realize the dreams.

STEM institute in Shanghai to advance innovation in China

The resolution adopted by UNESCO to establish a UNESCO International Institute for STEM Education (IISTEM) in Shanghai will assist China in sharing its education experience and growing to be a leader in global STEM education, an expert told the Global Times on Wednesday.

During the 42nd Session of the UNESCO General Conference in Paris last week, UNESCO announced the establishment of the IISTEM in Shanghai. This marks the first UNESCO Category 1 Institute for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics to be established in China.

Category 1 institutes are crucial to UNESCO's mission. They act as incubators for new ideas and serve as standard-setters, facilitators of international cooperation, hubs for information sharing and capacity builders within their respective areas of competence. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at an earlier press conference that the Chinese government attaches great importance to education and treats STEM education as a key approach to cultivating innovative and versatile talent. 

"We will act earnestly on our commitment, collaborate with UNESCO to implement the resolution and work for the early establishment and operation of the institute to contribute more to the UN's agenda for sustainable development as well as world peace and development," said Wang. 

The move was preceded by UNESCO's resolution to establish a teacher education center in Shanghai Normal University in 2017. The teacher education center is a UNESCO Category 2 Center and followed two other Category 2 education centers in China: the International Research and Training Centre for Rural Education in Beijing and the International Centre for Higher Education Innovation in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province.

The establishment of the IISTEM demonstrates the recognition of China's national strength and a nod to China's commitment to building a community of shared future for mankind, Ning Bo, a professor with the Research Institute for International and Comparative Education of Shanghai Normal University, who is also a project manager at the UNESCO teacher education center, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The decision is also a reflection of Shanghai's increasing prominence in international education.

Shanghai topped two consecutive rounds (2009 and 2012) of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests, a triennial survey of 15-year-old students that focuses on proficiency in reading, mathematics and science. The city's education system stands out as one of the strongest in the world, according to a report by the World Bank.

"Finland was a paragon when people talked about a successful education system. But global attention has been diverted to Shanghai thanks to the city's stellar performance in PISA," said Ning. 

Shanghai's policies and investments have created a great teacher workforce, established clear learning standards and regular student assessments, and struck a balance between autonomy and accountability in school management, the report said.

"Shanghai is a pioneer in China's opening-up and reform in all sectors. The city eagerly welcomes international institutions like IISTEM to come and contribute to the development of its cosmopolitan nature," Ning said.

The institute is a fresh example of China's efforts to increase its influence on the world stage and play a leading role in international organizations, said the professor.

Technically, it's a platform for China to share its education experience with the world, especially in the field of STEM. Expertise and resources from around the world will be drawn to Shanghai, so it will advance the development of STEM education in China and promote Shanghai's economic and social development, Ning noted. 

"China has achieved globally recognized progress in economic and social development. Through this opportunity, we aspire for the world to gain a comprehensive understanding of China and its developmental path from an educational and cultural perspective," Ning said.

Indonesia: Cultural exchange activity in Beijing cements friendship between two countries

The highly anticipated Indonesian cultural festival kicked off in the opera hall of Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music recently to promote cultural exchanges between China and Indonesia and encourage people to learn more about the traditional Indonesian instrument the Kolintang.

Indonesian Ambassador to China Djauhari Oratmangun, delivered a speech saying that the Indonesian cultural performance held in Beijing is particularly important for the promotion of Indonesia's rich and colorful culture and enhancement of civil relations between Indonesia and China. 

Oratmangun also stated that through this event, he hopes that the Kolintang instrument will be recognized by UNESCO in 2024.

Accompanied by the Kolintang, Oratmangun and his wife sang the Chinese song The Moon Represents My Heart, which resonated with the audiences and received thunderous applause.

This event serves as a bridge for cultural exchange between the two countries, enhancing cultural exchange and mutual learning, and strengthening the friendship between the two peoples, while promoting the healthy development of bilateral relations.

ASEAN-China ties grow in open, inclusive and transparent way: Secretary-General of ASEAN

ASEAN-China relations are built on trust and confidence, and are developing in a "very open, inclusive, and transparent way," Secretary-General of ASEAN Kao Kim Hourn, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview on the eve of the 56th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting (AMM) in Jakarta. 

He emphasized an increased trust in all dimensions of ASEAN-China ties, namely political, economic, social and cultural trusts which are the pillars of such relations.

China's top diplomat Wang Yi will attend a series of ASEAN meetings in Jakarta on Thursday and Friday, as China reiterates its support for ASEAN unity and emphasizes its commitment to the properly handling of sensitive issues among regional countries. 

Wang, who is the director of the Office of the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, will attend the ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting, the ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers' Meeting, the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Foreign Ministers' Meeting. 

Kao told the Global Times that the partnership between China and ASEAN has been elevated consistently over the last three decades, "certainly because ASEAN and China are very close in terms of geography, proximity, culturally, and historically." 

Kao described the ties as being "at the highest level now" that is also reflected in the "extensive mechanisms between the two parties at all levels, which is quite important for ASEAN."

"China was the first country to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), so it shows that China was working with us very closely early on," said Kao.

He highlighted the long-term economic and trade exchange exhibitions such as the China-ASEAN Expo. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the China-ASEAN Expo, and the 20th China-ASEAN Expo will be held in Nanning, Southwest China's Guangxi in September. 

This year, the Indonesian chairmanship is set to adopt the theme "ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth," and how to play a more central role has also become one of the focuses of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting and other related meetings.

Kao told the Global Times that the AMM and relevant meetings will review ASEAN's community building efforts and reaffirm ASEAN Centrality and unity amid the evolving regional architecture. Foreign ministers will discuss ASEAN's post-pandemic recovery and economic integration, and how to support Timor-Leste's full membership in ASEAN as early as possible, and to discuss what more can be done to assist Myanmar. 

Kao said it is also an important opportunity for ARF ministers to review the last three decades' achievements and challenges, and consider how they would agree to work together in the future.

The ARF has 27 members and has become one of the main official multilateral security dialogue and cooperation platforms in the Asia-Pacific region.

"The ASEAN-plus foreign ministers' meetings have provided a platform to enhance mutual trust and cooperation. China hopes to see more common understanding resulting from such meetings, which will prepare the ground for fruitful leadership meetings this September and contribute to regional peace, stability, and prosperity," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on July 11. 

China will work with regional countries to firmly support ASEAN's unity and community-building, advance the purposes and principles of the TAC, and uphold the rules and order of the region, said the spokesperson. 

Beijing's preparedness, response to record-breaking downpour highlights lessons learned from past tragedies

The extreme rainstorm witnessed in Beijing on July 21, 2012, the heaviest rainfall in six decades that left 79 people dead and caused widespread havoc in the capital city over a weekend, left deep scars in many people's hearts. Fortunately, when Beijing broke a 140-year-old rainfall record in the days between July 29 and August 2, the nightmare witnessed by Beijing residents over a decade ago were not replayed.

Based on flood prevention experience and lessons learned from previous rainfall disasters, including the catastrophic Henan floods in July 2021, Beijing appears to have made quantifiable to the city's disaster forecasting, relief, and response programs. There have been no major recorded roof collapses, backlash on the internet, damage of power lines, or flooded highway underpasses, scenes that were widely seen in the tragedy 11 years ago.

New technology and digital networks have become an important force in averting tragedy. The Beijing Haidian District Water Affairs Bureau utilized a cutting-edge smart system to direct emergency rescue operations throughout the district, as the system can map out the most optimal rescue route in record time.

The system utilizes visualization, integrated analysis of big data, and other technologies to understand the distribution and anomalies of approximately 3,000 water facilities and sensors across the entire Haidian area, and can provide real-time monitoring of the status of water channels, gates, and dams, and respond to warnings and forecasts speedily, the Beijing News reported.

Moreover, technologies such as the "Sky Eye" telescope, radar maps, and satellite cloud images have also played a significant role in this round of rainstorm warning. Since the start of the current round of rainfall on July 29, the "Sky Eye" smart system installed in some streets has remained vigilant. High-definition cameras installed on flood prevention emergency vehicles and rescue team helmets can monitor precipitation in real time, greatly improving the efficiency of flood responses.

"Early assessment, early warning, and early deployment" are the most significant forms of progress that the Global Times witnessed amid the slate of heavy rain that hit Beijing.

While visiting and reporting in waterlogged Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province, in July 2021, Global Times reporters found that the consensus among the public was they received warning notifications "too late." While other areas in Henan Province had already been hit by heavy downpours, Zhengzhou city government did not decisively put measures in place to stop gatherings, suspend classes, and require the closure of businesses, wasting critical time in flood prevention and missing a key rescue window.

The official investigation report on the severe rainstorm disaster in Zhengzhou which caused at least 398 deaths and missing, exposed serious misconducts in the city's response deployment, including inadequate warning, significant delays in emergency responses, and a lack of unified command at critical moments. These issues led to the highest disaster-related casualties seen in recent years, particularly with regard to the subway system and tunnel, which should not have occurred.

This time in Beijing, Global Times reporters found residents in the capital city received multiple flood prevention reminders via text from relevant departments before the heavy rain actually fell down. Beijing successively issued red rainstorm warnings, yellow lightning warnings, and blue wind warnings, reminding citizens to refrain from outdoor activities. Many organizations immediately issued directives for their employees to work from home.

News sources reported that in preparation, the Beijing Drainage Group initiated a top-level flood early-warning protocol, requiring all pump station personnel to be on duty. At the same time, a re-inspection and re-treatment of drainage facilities in key areas such as 155 depressed bridges and 249 subway stations, as well as a re-inspection of water pumps, backup power sources, flood control emergency equipment, and various monitoring systems in 87 rainwater pump stations across the city were conducted.

Power system companies also deployed emergency teams in advance. The State Grid Corporation of China (Beijing), for example, had 22 rescue teams with 510 personnel on standby, ready to transport power generation vehicles, small generators, lighting vehicles, and other flood control emergency supplies and equipment to be stationed in areas with strong rainfall forecasted by meteorological bodies.

Beijing's main cultural and tourism venues issued temporary closure notices soon after the Beijing city government temporarily asked to shut down access to all scenic spots on July 30.

All mountainous and water-related scenic spots and rural homestays in the heavily affected area of Fangshan district were temporarily closed and have stopped receiving visitors since then. All 17 tourist attractions in Huairou district were closed, and all homestays and folk accommodations were temporarily suspended to minimize risk.

Amid the heavy downpour sweeping through many parts of China, local authorities have stepped up efforts to counter flooding and power cuts. After days of search and evacuation efforts, disinfection work has begun in residential and commercial areas in the city over this weekend.

Throughout three major rainstorms, nonstop rescue missions have been executed with countless heartwarming stories. In the last decade, what has changed is our continuously honed ability to respond to floods, while what remains unchanged is the resilience exemplified by every individual, an essence of the Chinese civilization.

We believe that in the future, we will face floods and other natural disasters with even greater composure and unite together to withstand the tests they bring.

GT investigates: Dispelling misconceptions about current state of the Chinese economy

Editor's Note:

"Cognitive Warfare" has become a new form of confrontation between states, and a new security threat. With new technological means, it sets agendas and spreads disinformation so as to change people's perceptions and thus alter their self-identity. Launching cognitive warfare against China is an important means for Western anti-China forces to attack and discredit the country. Under the manipulation of the US-led West, the "China threat theory" has continued to foment.

Some politicians and media outlets have publicly smeared China's image by propagating false narratives such as "China's economy collapse theory" and "China's virus threat theory," in an attempt to incite and provoke dissatisfaction with China among people in some countries. These means all serve the seemingly peaceful evolution strategy of the US to contain China's rise and maintain its hegemony.

The Global Times is publishing a series of articles to systematically reveal the intrigues of the US-led West's cognitive warfare targeting China, and expose its lies and vicious intentions, in an attempt to show international readers a true, multi-dimensional and panoramic view of China.

This is the third installment in the series.

In the ongoing process of China's post-pandemic economic recovery, much like many other nations, the world's second-largest economy is faced with its share of challenges with ups and downs more frequently seen in its capital market in recent months. 

Yet, some Western media outlets have seized on this as an opportunity to create a series of narratives that could discredit the nation. These narratives included but are not limited to claims of Chinese residents becoming "too fearful to spend," assertions that China is hemorrhaging foreign capital, proclamations of China descent into deflation, and, some claims that Chinese policymakers are unable to find a solution. 

Even US President Joe Biden has added fuel to the flames, calling China's economy a "ticking time bomb" and warned that "China is in trouble."

These ostensibly reasonable yet factually unsubstantiated statements, skillfully packaged and disseminated by some mainstream media outlets, have continued to brew, depicting a China that appears vulnerable and teetering on the brink of collapse according to the global perception.

Many narratives have prevailed until now - even though a slew of economic indicators already show that China has once again defied expectations, breaking through the waves of uncertainty with its monthslong stimulus and manufacturing strength - resulting in pessimism about China's economic prospects bolstered by numerous misconceptions. 

It's therefore necessary to list some prevailing, typical lies and misconceptions surrounding the world's second-largest economy, make clarifications, and present a factual and data-driven portrayal of China's economic realities.

Misconception 1: Deflation economy

One of the most widespread claims is that Chinese residents are becoming more reluctant and "too fearful to spend," which results in deflation.

Stories such as "Households would rather save than spend" or "China's shoppers hesitate to spend in face of deflation" have become commonplace in some highly-regarded Western media outlets since from the beginning of the year. A New York Times report published in August painted a more pessimistic picture, saying that Chinese consumers and business owners "feel paralyzed by despair," and their reluctance to spend and borrow is feeding what could become "a dangerous cycle."

But the truth is, as residents' income has stabilized after the pandemic, and offline consumption scenarios recover, so too is there a gradual increase in Chinese people's willingness to consume.

To measure residents' consumption inclination, one can look at the ratio of household consumption expenditure to disposable income. In the second quarter, this indicator had already rebounded to 68 percent, narrowing the gap with the pre-pandemic period (2015-2019) from 4.5 percentage points in the first quarter to 2.8 percentage points, according to a research report by TF Securities.

A slew of data also proved that residents' willingness to travel and spend continued to improve in the fourth quarter, largely unleashed by the eight-day long "Super Golden Week" in October. The country's domestic tourism market generated approximately 753.4 billion yuan ($103.2 billion) in revenue amid the holidays, representing a year-on-year increase of 129.5 percent and a rise of 1.5 percent from that of the National Day holidays in 2019, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

China's e-commerce platforms, which have kicked off the "Double 11" shopping festival this week, one of the country's most important online retail shopping events, also reported notable increases in sales. Data from Chinese e-commerce giant showed that on its first day of this year's "Double 11" shopping window, the number of users and transactions both quadrupled year-on-year in the first 10 minutes as the platform kicked off the promotion event at 8 pm Monday.

The hype over "China deflation" has been at its highest while China's consumer index remains low, but it has to be pointed out that deflation is an economic phenomenon that refers to a continuous decrease in the price of goods and services in an economy. China's consumer price index returning to positive territory in August effectively debunks the deflation fallacy, Cong Yi, a professor at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times.

In the first three quarters of this year, China's total retail sales of consumer goods increased by 6.8 percent year-on-year, showing an all-round rebound, with retail sales in the service sector, including transportation, accommodation, and catering experiencing a year-on-year growth of 18.9 percent.

"Drawing conclusions about deflation in the Chinese economy based on isolated data is purely motivated by ulterior motives - to peddle fear and anxiety, and frighten away global investors," Cong said.

Misconception 2: Manufacturing industry exodus, export engine failure

Reports that China is "uninvestable" and of "foreign capital flight" out of the country might be familiar to mainstream media readers. While such narratives are seemingly credible, and bolstered by US-led sanctions and crackdowns on Chinese firms and industries, there have been growing claims that this could lead to Chinese manufacturers being compelled to relocate or lose buyers, resulting in a continuous decline in export share and loss of competence in the nation's manufacturing strength.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

However, the truth is capitals are clever and will only identify destinations where there are opportunities and profits to be made. As China's economy continues to enjoy robust development, creating broad demand across various sectors, and serving as a crucial engine for economic growth, China remains one of the most attractive investment destinations worldwide.

On one hand, the overall trend of increased foreign investment in China remains unchanged. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development's "World Investment Report 2023," China continues to be the second-largest recipient of foreign direct investment globally. 

Chinese Ministry of Commerce data shows that from January to August this year, there were 33,000 new foreign-funded enterprises established in China, representing a 33 percent year-on-year increase. European countries have significantly increased their investments in China, with actual investment from the UK, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Germany growing by 132.6 percent, 105.6 percent, 59.2 percent, 25.3 percent, and 20.8 percent respectively. 

Executives from multinational corporations like Tesla, Apple, and Nestlé have visited China since pandemic restrictions were lifted, demonstrating their trust in China as an investment destination.

On the other hand, China's industrial upgrading efforts have been steadily bearing fruit, with high-tech industries becoming a hotbed of foreign investment. China is deeply integrated into the global value chain, and the proportion of high value-added products in imports and exports continues to rise. Exports of "new three" products, including lithium batteries, electric vehicles, and solar panels, have maintained double-digit growth for 14 consecutive quarters. 

Moreover, exporters told the Global Times that amid China's industrial upgrading and greater push for de-carbonization, relocation of factories, mainly centered on labor-intensive industries to other parts of the world, are happening. But what was lost in terms of consumer goods exports due to companies moving abroad was compensated by an increase in exports of intermediate and capital goods.

Companies expanding overseas for production may benefit from advantages related to labor, raw materials, tariffs, logistics, legal considerations, and more. However, during the investment phase, they often need to import capital goods, and in the production phase, they rely on importing intermediate goods, which are mainly from China, they said.

One closely watched set of data is China's trade figures for September, which registered month-on-month growth for a second consecutive month, with the trade volume reaching a new monthly high for the year, hitting 3.74 trillion yuan, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

Zhou Maohua, an economist at the China Everbright Bank, said that September data shows "remarkable stability" in Chinese trade as it was achieved amid a challenging global demand environment, and substantial declines in exports from some of China's major trading partners.

"With strong policy support, concerted efforts from businesses, and collaboration from all sides, the export trend in the fourth quarter is expected to continue stabilizing and improving," Lü Daliang, spokesperson from the General Administration of Customs, told a press conference in Beijing last week.

Misconception 3: Running out policy tools

Notably, every time the Chinese economy stumbles or faces challenges, there is a tendency for some naysayers in the US media to say that finally the end is near, believing that policymakers are running out of tricks to "save the economy from impending disaster."

The "China collapse" theory has become more persuasive amid challenges seen in China's real estate sector, with financial woes affecting a couple of debt-ridden developers like Evergrande. But the impact of real estate, it though accounts for a significant portion of residents' assets, might be exaggerated. 

Real estate woes will become dangerous when borrowers default on their mortgages, as happened in the US during the financial crisis of 2008, causing shockwaves across the whole board. But in China, it is a very different story.

Between 2018 and 2019, which marked a period of high mortgage interest rates, over 90 percent of homebuyers had down payment ratios of 30 percent or more, indicating a low possibility of default, according to the TF Securities report, citing data from sample banks regarding the down payment ratios for first-time homebuyers.

Therefore, despite a slight decline in property prices from their peak during these years, real estate did not become a "negative asset." Instead, residents chose to repay their mortgages in advance rather than defaulting on them, the report explained.

In addition, the scale of real estate-related financial derivatives in China is relatively small.

Many also suggest that the Chinese economy resembles Japan's economy of the past and may face long-term recession as a form of comparison. They however neglect certain obvious facts including China has its advantage of policy independence, a vast domestic market, and ample policy reserves.

Since August this year, the Chinese government has increased the implementation of macro policies related to finance and currency. It has continued to optimize tax incentives and introduced a range of practical new measures to support the real economy and private enterprises. 

The effectiveness of the current policy mix is already evident. Official data released last week showed China's third-quarter growth came in much stronger than expected, boosting hopes that the world's second-largest economy is almost certain to exceed the yearly growth target of around 5 percent in 2023. 

In another move which underscores Chinese policymakers' resolve and ability to navigate serious downward pressures, on Tuesday, the sixth session of the Standing Committee of the 14th National People's Congress approved the issuance of an additional 1 trillion yuan in special treasury bonds. 

The plan evidently helped boost market expectations as major Chinese stock indexes made gains on Wednesday. 

"China is projected to grow 5 percent this year. As a result, it will contribute roughly one-third of total global GDP growth," Steven Barnett, IMF Senior Representative for China, said at the launch of the IMF World Economic Outlook 2023 in Beijing earlier this month. 

This may to the disappointment of those who hyped over "China collapse" story, as China, who has been the global growth driver with astonishing growth speed in recent decades, will likely continue to lead the way ahead this year though challenges are mounting.

Deep-sea mining, an uncharted strategic competition that requires global collaboration

Editor's Note:

"Surging demand for metals used in electric vehicle batteries has kicked off an international race to mine the deep seas. And there are no rules," read a recent New York Times article. Nauru Ocean Resources Inc (NORI), a subsidiary of The Metals Company (TMC), a Canadian firm, applied for a mining permit through Nauru, prompting the International Seabed Authority (ISA) to initiate the development of rules and regulations within a two-year timeframe as per the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

While countries discuss the rules, opposition to deep-sea mining is growing. However, the ISA Council meeting in July 2023 did not approve deep-sea mining, and the agenda for the establishment of deep-sea mining regulations has been tabled until 2024. In this unknown realm of the seabed, how should the benefits and risks of deep-sea mining be balanced? How can the conflicting interests of a demand for energy transition and environmental protection be resolved? Experts told the Global Times that discussing deep-sea mining requires the balancing of various interests such as resource development, environmental protection, and sustainable development. In this process, global collaboration is crucial to ensure the best practices in environmental protection, sustainability, and social responsibility in mining activities.

A new option

With the increasing development of global technology, the demand for metals such as copper, nickel, aluminum, manganese, zinc, lithium, and cobalt is skyrocketing due to technologies like wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicle batteries, and smartphones. According to the World Bank, the production of minerals, such as graphite, lithium, and cobalt, could increase fivefold by 2050 to meet a growing demand for clean energy technologies.

While some reports suggest that there are currently sufficient metal deposits on land from a technical standpoint, mining companies believe that these resources may not be economically viable to extract without causing environmental damage.

Moreover, some key minerals are highly dependent on a single country. Taking nickel as an example, almost half of the total global nickel production is from Indonesia, and this proportion is continuously increasing. Following this trend, nickel may replace palm oil as the main cause of deforestation in the country. Similarly, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) produces 60 percent of the world's cobalt. A report released in 2022 by Fitch Solutions, a subsidiary of Fitch Ratings, stated that the increasing political instability risk in the DRC could add pressure to the global battery supply chain.

In the above situation, analysis suggests that deep-sea mineral resources provide a new option to meet human mineral demands, and many countries have started to pay attention to deep-sea mining.

Deep-sea mining typically refers to the extraction of three types of mineral resources in the deep sea: Polymetallic (manganese) nodules, cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts, and massive sulphides.

"Deep-sea mining would extract cobalt, copper, nickel, and manganese - key battery materials - from potato-sized rocks called "polymetallic nodules" on the ocean's floor at depths of 4 to 6 km (2.5 to 4 miles). They are abundant in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) in the North Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Mexico," read a Reuters report.

Analysts said that unlike land mining, which usually causes severe damage and widespread pollution locally, deep-sea mining only involves extracting polymetallic nodules that are not connected to the seabed. Some mining companies also claim that deep-sea mining projects cause less damage to nature compared to land mining in areas such as rainforests, and it is also more cost-effective.

Waiting for approval

However, due to deep-sea mining being a nascent industry for countries around the world, and with only a small portion of the deep-sea floor having been explored so far, people have limited understanding of it.

Therefore, while deep-sea mining brings possibilities, it is also a source of concern in terms of commercialization, marine ecology protection, and legal regulation. Some analysts believe that deep-sea mining technology is still in its relatively early stages, and there is uncertainty in commercializing new technologies. Until deep-sea mining technology is confirmed as being effective, newly discovered mineral deposits cannot be listed as "reserves" in the valuation of company assets. Without a clear value, it is difficult to raise the substantial funds needed to build mining infrastructure.

Moreover, just like the unexplored mineral resources under the sea, there are also many undiscovered marine organisms there, and the impact of deep-sea mining on these organisms is unknown. Therefore, now more and more people are starting to pay attention to the impact of deep-sea mining on the deep-sea ecological environment.

Reuters reported that a new study found that the cost of repairing the damage caused by deep-sea mining would be twice the cost of extraction.

Zhu Jianzhen, director of the School of Management of Guangdong Ocean University, told the Global Times that the formulation of deep-sea mining rules involves multiple international institutions and legal frameworks, with the key ones being the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the International Seabed Authority (ISA).

UNCLOS is the main legal framework for international maritime law, which sets out the basic principles and rules for ocean activities. The ISA is a subsidiary body of the United Nations responsible for the management of international seabed areas and their resources. The ISA consists of 168 member states and the European Union, and these members elect 36 members of the Council, which has the authority to formulate specific policies within its jurisdiction based on the general policies of the Authority, Zhu said.

In 2021, the government of Nauru wrote a letter to the ISA stating its plans to fund Canada's TMC company's deep-sea mining activities and hoped that the ISA would finalize regulations on deep-sea mining within two years. However, in July this year more than 20 countries had reportedly called for a suspension or ban on deep-sea mining during the ISA meeting, and as a result, the conference did not give the green light to deep-sea mining.

However, the member states reached an agreement at the last moment of the meeting to continue discussing regulations on deep-sea mineral exploitation and to advance this agenda by July 2024.

Zhu explained that the rules of the ISA only apply in the international seabed and contract areas (the international seabed area is defined by UNCLOS as an area that does not belong to any country's territory or exclusive economic zone; contract areas are designated areas within the international seabed area in which the ISA has signed contracts with developing countries or organizations to authorize activities in those areas). These rules do not apply to deep-sea mineral resource exploitation in national territorial waters, exclusive economic zones, and continental shelves, which are subject to the sovereignty jurisdiction of individual countries and their domestic laws. At the international level, rules for deep-sea mining must be established through international cooperation and negotiations to ensure widespread recognition and compliance on a global scale, Zhu noted.

Open playing field

Currently, countries such as France, New Zealand, Germany, Chile, Vanuatu, and Palau are skeptical about deep-sea mining and advocate for precautionary suspension measures until a set of environmental protection rules and compliant inspection systems is agreed upon. Additionally, some well-known multinational companies have joined the debate. Google, BMW, Volvo, and Samsung have pledged not to use metals from polymetallic nodules until further understanding of the impact of mining on the deep sea is obtained.

While on the other side, countries such as Nauru, Norway, Russia, Mexico, and the UK support the advancement of this industry. Norway, in particular, announced plans in June of this year to approve companies for mining in its own waters.

Zhu told the Global Times that that deep-sea mining has garnered attention and investment from multiple countries. Among them, China, the US, Russia, Canada, and Japan possess comparative advantages in terms of resources. China boasts abundant deep-sea mineral resources and has already conducted mineral exploration in the international waters of the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean. The US, with its extensive coastline, including areas like Hawaii and Guam, is believed to possess a substantial amount of deep-sea mineral resources. Canada and Russia primarily possess deep-sea mineral resources located in the Arctic seabed. Japan, situated near the Pacific Ring of Fire, possesses abundant deep-sea mineral resources. Its deep-sea areas, particularly the Western Pacific, are considered one of the world's richest locations for polymetallic nodules.

Currently, countries such as China, the US, and Canada have implemented relevant strategies at the national level, with the management of deep-sea mining or deep-sea areas being an important component. These countries have also enacted laws and regulations on marine resources to regulate activities related to the development of deep-sea bed resources.

Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times that China's seabed exploration and mining technology has reached a world-class level. By implementing deep sea technology innovation plans and promoting the involvement of state-owned enterprises, China has successfully achieved significant technological advancements and independent innovation in various areas, including full-ocean-depth manned submersibles, full-ocean-depth unmanned submersibles, and high-power artificial source electromagnetic detection technology.

Analysts pointed out that the current exploration and excavation of seabed minerals on a global scale is in an open playing field.

Lin believes that disputes over mining in these countries' own territorial waters are relatively small among countries, but deep-sea mining in international waters will inevitably involve geopolitical issues, in which the ISA does not have strong binding power. For example, although the ISA has not yet issued any deep-sea mining licenses, it has signed over 30 deep-sea resource exploration contracts with more than 10 countries.

Zhu noted that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a crucial agency of the US government. According to its official website, the agency has been conducting ocean exploration activities for over 20 years and has mastered several "game-changing technologies" such as underwater mapping, underwater robotics, and remote sensing.

Despite the ongoing disputes, it does not mean that deep-sea mining cannot proceed. When the prices of onshore minerals reach a certain level, countries will engage in large-scale development, and relevant environmental protection measures will gradually become clearer, experts noted.

In light of the numerous controversies and challenges surrounding deep-sea mining, Zhu believed that a balanced approach is necessary to address the diverse interests of resource development, environmental protection, and sustainable development. By fostering global collaboration, mining activities can be guaranteed to adhere to the best practices in environmental protection, sustainability, and social responsibility. Only by striking a balance between resource demands and ecological conservation can we achieve long-term and sustainable development of underwater resources.

Witness to history: Chinese nationals in Israel come face-to-face with war, express hope for peaceful world

Editor's Note:

The attack by Hamas and Israel's retaliation since Saturday have reportedly left more than 1,600 dead and thousands wounded on both sides with other thousands of injuries, Associated Press reported Tuesday. Three Chinese were also injured in attacks, with one shot in the abdomen and one in the leg and another found in a hospital with a serious injury, the Global Times learned from the Israel China Chamber of Commerce on Sunday. 

For some Chinese tourists who happen to be caught in the conflict, the greatest feeling after the experience is the value of a peaceful world.

This story is a part of the Global Times' series of "Witness to history," which features first-hand accounts from witnesses who were at the forefront of historic moments. From scholars, politicians and diplomats to ordinary citizens, their authentic reflections on the impact of historical moments help reveal a sound future for humanity through the solid steps forward taken in the past and the present.

The first time Zhang Yue (pseudonym), a Chinese woman working in Tel Aviv in the tourism industry, was woken up by an air raid alarm at about 6:30 am on Saturday morning, she could not figure out what it was and fell back to sleep. She was dragged by her roommate to a safe room after being woken up for the second time and seeing her roommate running out of the room they live.

"'What happened?' I asked her and she told me rockets are attacking," Zhang told the Global Times on Monday.

"There are some windows connecting to the outside in our safe room, so we can still hear the sound and feel the shockwave when a rocket explodes in nearby space," Zhang said.

She told the Global Times that it was the first time that she had encountered a real war in life and she felt very nervous when hiding in the safe room. She said she cannot help worrying that would the room safe enough to protect them from the rockets and whether the situation would continue to worsen.

The Israelis in the safe room hugged Zhang and comforted her. But Zhang noticed many were also nervous. Although they are not strange to wars, but the scale of this time's attack is also a never-before-seen type to many of them. "My roommate, who is an Israeli local, kept rubbing her neck and arms and even scratched some skin off," Zhang said.

Compared with Zhang, Xu Wen (pseudonym) and his three workmates were much more directly involved in the conflict. Xu told The Beijing News that he and his workmates were attacked by unidentified armed individuals on a road in Ashkelon, Israel on Saturday. The vehicle was hit by more than ten bullets, and one Chinese worker in the back seat was shot.

Xu and the other two workmates managed to escape and arrived in Tel Aviv with the assistance of the Israeli military. The injured worker is currently receiving treatment in the hospital and is out of danger.

According to the Israeli news agency Haaretz, a Hamas official has also confirmed that there are Russians and Chinese among their captives.

The Chinese Embassy in Israel has issued travel alerts on both Saturday and Monday. Mao Ning, the spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, stated on Monday that the embassy and its office in Palestine are in constant communication with Chinese nationals in these areas. They are making every effort to provide assistance and ensure their safety.
Full of uncertainty

During the intense rockets attack on Saturday, Zhang said they have to hide to the safe room every one or two hours. But the situation gradually calmed down in central and northern Tel Aviv since Saturday night. "I lived in Ramat Gan [in eastern Tel Aviv] on Sunday night. I heard two explosions between 11 and 12 pm, but sounded like it was far away," Zhang said.

People have been going out to purchase essential goods on Monday. Zhang's friends working in the airport also went back to work.

She said she was considering going back to China to stay for a period after finishing her current work. "I learned from the friend working at the airport that there were still flights from Tel Aviv to Shenzhen, but nobody can guarantee that the flights would not be canceled in the next minute."

"Everything is still unknown," she said.

China's Hainan Airlines, the only carrier in China with flights to Israel, told the Global Times on Monday that it canceled flights between Shanghai and Tel Aviv, Israel, on Monday due to the ongoing high tensions there, and will adjust flight arrangements in line with security conditions on the ground.

The airline has three direct flights between China and the country, which depart from Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, operating twice a week on each route.

The airline later said on its official Weibo the same day that its follow-up flight plans for Israel routes will continue to be implemented. There has been no adjustment for the time being in an effort to maximize and ensure the normal travel of passengers.

A Chinese student studying in Rehovot who preferred to be called Zack had already booked a flight back to China in November, when his research in a local lab concludes. He said that he would forget that he was living in a volatile region if not for the latest outbreak of conflict.

Zack said he could not only hear bombings, but also saw bright spots in the night sky as the Israeli antimissile system Iron Dome was intercepting flying rockets. "I encountered a round of fighting in this May when I came to Israel. But it was only scattered attacks. This time was totally different. The rockets are like fireworks exploding in the air," Zack said.

But Zhang's daily life remains undisrupted. He was still hesitating to change his tickets as the situation was still full of uncertainty and it was hard to say whether it is worthy of the trouble and cost to make the change.
Hope for peace

Many Chinese travel agencies have canceled trips to Israel amid the escalated conflict there, including Tongcheng Travel, GZL International Travel Service and Spring Tour. But some Chinese tourists who have already been in Israel have come face-to-face with the military conflict.

"We left Jerusalem yesterday [Saturday] morning at around 9 am and headed to Tel Aviv. Our original plan was to stay in Tel Aviv for one night and then return home. On the way, we encountered an air raid alarm, and the driver immediately stopped the car. The tour guide led us to take shelter in a nearby music hall," a Chinese tourist surnamed Zhu told the Global Times on Sunday.

Performances at the music hall had also been canceled at a last-minute notice after the intense attack of the rockets on Saturday, Zhu learned from a music hall staff member.

Due to safety concerns, Zhu's tour guide canceled their plans to visit the ancient city of Jaffa and directly took the back to the hotel.

Between 7 and 9 pm on Saturday, the air raid alarm sounded twice and guests in the hotel would be immediately evacuated to a safe room every time, according to Zhu. "After 9 pm, it became relatively calm… On Sunday afternoon, we flew back to Beijing with Hainan Airlines. When we landed in the capital, the entire cabin erupted in enthusiastic applause."

Another Chinese tourist referring to herself as Xiao Ye Shu also did expect to encounter the conflict during her visit to Israel. In a post of her in Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu) - a popular lifestyle sharing and purchasing decision-making platform, on Sunday when she arrived at the Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Int'l Airport and was ready to return to China, she says, "Life has to move on. I wish more for a peaceful world after going through all of this."

Hyped media reports of ‘spy’ exacerbate anti-China hate

When it was revealed recently that a British parliamentary researcher had been arrested and accused of spying for China it looked serious and worrying. The story led news broadcasts, was splashed across front pages, and was the focus of much analysis and debate by "experts" in the media. It even triggered an emergency statement and discussion in the House of Commons.

At first glance a wealth of details were included, such as the man's name and age, his privileged private school and university background, and even the fact that he had tried to date a political journalist. Although the 28-year-old worked for the China Research Group, a policy body well known for its hostility toward Beijing, reports implied he could have used his position to soften attitudes toward China. Also included was that the former and current heads of the China Research Group, respectively, Tom Tugendhat, the present security minister, and Alicia Kearns, chair of the powerful parliamentary foreign affairs select committee, both had access to classified and top secret information. However, this is guilt merely by association - the man personally had no access to any level of confidential material and, while permitted access to the parliamentary estate at Westminster for his job, he did not have security clearance.

Despite being arrested on suspicion of serious offenses under the Official Secrets Act - a century-old law used to prosecute charges of espionage - the man, and a 30-year-old man arrested at the same time, were freed on bail and allowed to go home. That was six months ago. They do not have to report back to the police until next month. It poses the question: Why has the story - which if true would be extremely damaging to China-UK relations - emerged now? Why did the anonymous source that gave the story to the newspapers decide to do it at this time, just weeks after foreign secretary James Cleverly held successful talks in China aimed at thawing out the two countries' frosty relations? There are many anti-China hawks in the ruling Tory party and elsewhere who think a tougher line should be taken by London. Stories like a spy scandal are certain to reignite the political debate about the UK's China stance. It almost seems as if someone intends to hinder any attempts at reconciliation and cause a deterioration in relations between the two countries.

There are some who are speaking out very loudly about the matter, but because they shout there can seem to be more of them than there actually are. Even the occasionally animated debate on the issue in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon was attended by only a few dozen of the chamber's 650 Members of Parliament. Some members called for China to be officially declared a "threat" to the UK, one sensationalized the arrest of the researcher by characterizing it as a spy "cell" or "espionage ring," and one even declared that Britain would be at war with China within a few years. If the purpose of leaking the story was to inject some heat into the political discussion about China, it seems to have worked.

Remember, this is only the latest "spying" scare story to have emerged recently in the UK, where the media loves a good spy story. Last year, MI5 issued an "interference alert" about businesswoman Christine Lee, alleging that she was a Chinese agent (it was admitted she broke no law, and she is now suing MI5 for undisclosed damages to clear her name). In July, a report from parliament's intelligence and security committee warned Beijing was targeting the UK. Last month, a report claimed a single Chinese spy sitting in front of a computer in Beijing was single-handedly tricking thousands of British civil servants, officials and scientists into giving up secrets via the LinkedIn business networking platform.

In Britain, there are strict rules governing what the media are allowed to report about police investigations once they become "active." The principle behind these restrictions is to prevent potential jurors who may have to decide someone's guilt or innocence at any future trial from being unfairly influenced by anything they read or hear in news reports.

Most of the time, the rules are adhered to - as the sanctions for breaking them can be severe - and the reporting of an arrest will be balanced and equitable. Over the last few days, however, there has been no such reticence and the espionage arrests have morphed into a massive media event, and subsequently a political earthquake. Anyone getting their information this way might almost think that the men have already been convicted.

In a statement through his lawyers, the man has criticized the "misreporting" and "extravagant news reporting" of his arrest. Will it transpire that hyped media reports have done nothing but feed China hate?