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.
The China Academy of Art has welcomed the celebration of its 95th anniversary since its establishment in the recently inaugurated Liangzhu campus in East China's Zhejiang Province. As the nation's first comprehensive national institution for higher artistic education, the art academy mirrors the evolution of contemporary Chinese art and artistic education over the last century.
Gao Shiming, president of the academy, told the Global Times that Chinese President Xi Jinping's emphasis on the need to combine fine traditional culture with the Marxist stand, viewpoint and approach, also known as the "second integration," holds significant implications for art education. In addition, humanity is entering the "second Renaissance," to which China is making global contributions.
At a meeting on cultural inheritance and development in June, Xi called for the integration of the basic tenets of Marxism with traditional Chinese culture, known as the "second integration," which builds on the Communist Party of China's "first integration" of theoretical synthesis - the integration of the basic tenets of Marxism with China's specific reality, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Ma Yifu, a renowned Chinese scholar, once asserted that Marxism has reactivated a socialist gene that exists in Chinese traditional cultural thought and social history, Gao said.
Common core values
Traditional Chinese culture and Marxism share common core values, such as the concept of equality. Chinese philosopher Wang Yangming's proposal of "cultivating moral consciousness, envisioning every individual as a saint," aligns with Marx's perspective on equality.
Similarly, the integration of Marxism and China's fine traditional culture has been vividly manifested in Chinese art, placing the people at the center and elevating them as the social subjects.
For instance, in the 1950s and 1950s, the Zhejiang school of figure painting, led by Fang Zengxian, employed techniques traditionally used for emperors, bodhisattvas and flora to portray ordinary farmers. This marked a significant period in China's millennia-old art history.
From its inception, the China Academy of Art envisioned an academic mission of "introducing Western art, organizing Chinese art, reconciling Eastern and Western art, and creating contemporary art." Over the last 95 years, the institution has walked alongside the history of modern Chinese art, responding to national crises and reinventing itself in the face of contemporary challenges.
During this period, two scholarly ideas have consistently unfolded: One represented by the inaugural dean, Lin Fengmian, which embodies the "integration of Chinese and Western styles." The other school of thought, pioneered by figures like Huang Binhong and Zhao Wuji, follows the path of "innovation within tradition." Zhao created a form of modern painting from within the folds of Chinese tradition. He activated certain elements of Chinese tradition by using modern art, creating an alternative, distinct and unique form of modern painting that gained global recognition.
"The last 95 years have seen the China Academy of Art charting a path in modern art education deeply rooted in the Chinese soil, reflecting a journey of artistic revival that is both grounded in tradition and independently innovative," Gao said.
What does a Renaissance require? "Prosperous technology, flourishing arts, developed commerce and a gathering of talents - we have all these elements now," Gao said.
He explained that the first Renaissance was catalyzed by an external factor - the Age of Discovery. Today, the internet serves as the great navigation of the 21st century. People in the world are not just witnessing a Renaissance in China but a global Renaissance in which China has started contributing to the world.
In the 21st century, art education in China has taken on a more significant role, serving as a catalyst for societal innovation. The current Chinese society craves innovation, creativity and self-transcendence. Igniting the primitive innovative capabilities of the entire nation is crucial.
"I often tell students not to confine themselves to being artists within the art realm but to become artists of the world," Gao said, adding that contemporary society demands the need for not just traditional artists but countless art professionals with the ability to innovate and imagine, solving real-world problems. This is the fundamental goal of the China Academy of Art - to foster a culture in which the entire art community contributes to the construction of a beautiful China and the high-quality development of the nation.
In the era of the first Renaissance, the world was not peaceful. Today, the world faces constant conflicts, making culture and art even more crucial as forces of reflection and reconciliation, guiding people into a more essential and expansive realm, allowing humanity a sense of transcendence.
The great French writer Flaubert once said, "Art and science met at the foot of the mountain and parted ways at the summit." The difficulty lies in people's journey not yet "reaching the summit," as people have technologized science and turned tools into technology.
Gao believes there's no need to rush; scientists and artists can engage in more philosophical exchanges. Simultaneously, people can start with specific initiatives, such as promoting a course called "illusion."
Scientists delve into the internal and physiological mechanisms of illusions, while artists design various illusions. This is a tangible course illustrating the fusion of science and art.
From another perspective, in the era of general artificial intelligence, people might leverage AI to become individuals with more extensive space and creative capabilities, akin to Da Vinci's versatility.
"As artificial intelligence advances, human artistic intelligence also grows," he said.
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.
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.
"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.
To tell the truth, when Chinese new energy vehicles shone brightly at the recent 2023 International Motor Show in Germany, we heard some envious and even jealous remarks. But we didn't expect Europe's response to be so "excessive." On September 13, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, announced that they are launching an anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese electric vehicles (EVs). The European Union's decision is regrettable because while it acknowledges its own issues, it has chosen the wrong direction in haste and has not found the right solution to the problem.
The reasons provided by the European Union for initiating this anti-subsidy investigation are unfounded. It claimed that Chinese EVs receive "enormous state subsidies," resulting in artificially reduced prices that disrupt the European market. However, this does not align with facts. Chinese EVs are sold at significantly higher prices in Europe compared to China, whereas certain European EVs are priced lower in the Chinese market than in Europe.
Currently, Chinese EVs do not have a high market share in Europe, but they are gaining momentum. This has nothing to do with subsidies. Chinese EV companies have achieved "high quality and reasonable prices" by leveraging technological advancements and innovation, lowering costs, and improving overall quality, which has won the favor of consumers.
For both European consumers and major European car companies, Chinese EVs are not a "wolf" but a beneficial presence. EVs produced in Europe are often sold at high prices. The entry of Chinese EVs has provided European consumers with more and better cost-effective options, which is a tangible benefit. Any crackdown on Chinese EVs is bound to harm the affordability that European citizens currently enjoy.
A European Union diplomat told the media, "We cannot afford to lose our car industry." This statement unveils the true intention behind EU's actions: protectionism under the guise of "fair competition." The EU claims to "protect" Europe's automotive industry, but adopting policies of trade protectionism has been proven ineffective and costly in the past. The traditional European automotive industry has been strong and lying in its comfort zone for many years, which has led to a lack of drive for innovation in EVs and competitiveness. To change this situation, it is essential to step out of the comfort zone and enhance the competitiveness of their products in a fully competitive market.
If Europe lacks the confidence and courage to win the market through fair competition, it will be impossible to establish competitiveness in the EV industry. Keeping the EV industry in a protective green house will never lead to its growth and strength. Chinese EVs serve as a catalyst and motivation for the European EV industry to strive for innovation. Trade barriers cannot bridge the innovation gap; it will only exacerbate the situation further.
As the Chinese Ministry of Commerce responded, the automotive industries of China and Europe have formed a mutually beneficial relationship, so any harm to one side will also harm the other. The Chinese market is the largest overseas market for many EU car companies, and China provides a favorable business environment for European cars. If you take a look at the roads in Germany, you will see mostly German cars, while in France, you will see mostly French cars. The same goes for Japan and South Korea. However, on Chinese roads, you can find cars from all over the world, which vividly reflects the openness and diversity of the Chinese market. All of this should be cherished and valued by Europe.
In interpersonal relationships, reciprocity is important. China and Europe should create a fair, non-discriminatory, and predictable market environment for the mutual development of the electric car industry. They should jointly oppose trade protectionism and work together to address global climate change and achieve carbon neutrality. Particularly, the EU itself is also a victim of protectionism. The Inflation Reduction Act enacted by the US last year used similar tactics to protect its domestic industries, which caused strong opposition in Europe, with many saying, "The Americans stabbed us in the back." Now, the EU is responding to foreign competitors with the same mind-set, and it should feel ashamed of its decision today.
In her speech on Wednesday, von der Leyen mentioned the example of the solar industry, stating that "we have not forgotten how China's unfair trade practices affected our solar industry." The solar industry is indeed a worthy example to review. In 2013, the EU followed the US in imposing anti-dumping tariffs on imported solar panels from China, citing the same reason of "unfair subsidies." However, the result was that because of lack of competition, the European solar industry languished, and many companies increased costs by importing Chinese products through other channels.
Looking back today, we can draw two lessons from what the solar industry suffered: First, competitiveness cannot be gained through protectionism, and blindly engaging in protectionism often backfires; second, trade disputes and differences ultimately need to be resolved through mutual negotiation. We hope that the EU can extract the correct information from the case of the solar industry, listen more to the voices of the business community, and have fewer politicized interpretations. After all, towering trees cannot grow in a greenhouse, and a steel-winged eagle cannot fly out of a birdcage.
In recent months, the Philippines has frequently provoked China in the waters surrounding Ren'ai Reef and Huangyan Island, attracting extensive international attention. Will the Philippines take the risk of relying on the support of the US to forcefully transport construction materials and personnel to the illegally "grounded" warship in Ren'ai Reef, thereby triggering an armed conflict between China and the Philippines? Although it has not been ruled out that the Philippines may take such extreme measures to further exacerbate the situation in the South China Sea and the China-Philippines relationship under the misjudgment of the situation, the probability of them taking such extreme actions is still relatively low.
Successive Philippine governments have shown periodic swings in dealing with relations with China. These swings can even occur within the same presidential term. The predecessor of former President Rodrigo Duterte,in the first four years of his presidency, distanced the Philippines from the US, reduced provocations in the South China Sea and actively participated in the Belt and Road Initiative. However, over the last two years in his presidency, the situation in the South China Sea had been tense. And he restored the Philippines' key military agreement with the US.
Since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr entered office in 2022, this trend in foreign policy is still evident. He not only became the first Philippine president to visit the White House in 10 years but also granted the US military access to four military sites. The Philippines under his leadership frequently clashed with China over the South China Sea issue. However, he also visited China in early 2023 and made a guarantee that the military bases accessible to the US would not be used in any offensive action, expressing a certain degree of goodwill toward China. Therefore, it is premature to say the Philippines will continue to antagonize China in the future based solely on its current "tough policy" in the South China Sea.
Furthermore, some domestic factions in the Philippines believe that the US would provide substantial support to the Philippines in the event of a military conflict with China. This is a serious strategic misjudgment influenced by two misleading signals. Firstly, in February 2023, the US and the Philippines expanded the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). The Philippines agreed to allow US military presence in four new military bases, believing that the US would reciprocate and provide strong support to the Philippines in the event of a military conflict with China. Additionally, the US has expressed its intention to invite the Philippines to join its "Indo-Pacific" multilateral security cooperation mechanism, creating a new "Quadrilateral Security Mechanism" including the US, Japan, Australia and the Philippines to address potential conflicts in the South China Sea. However, the US has never publicly committed to militarily assisting or supporting the Philippines in the event of a military conflict with China. The Philippine government should abandon such illusion.
The current policy of provoking China by the Philippines is not well-received within the ASEAN. ASEAN member states hope that, amid the backdrop of the US and its allies using the Indo-Pacific Strategy to confront China, China can exercise maximum restraint, and they do not want their own countries to be used by the US as "pawns" in its efforts to contain China. Currently, the escalating provocations by the Philippines in the South China Sea do not align with the overall interests of ASEAN countries in pursuing "peace, security and stability." It is clear that the ASEAN countries will not take sides with the Philippines and will not allow the situation to escalate further.
Relevant Philippine authorities should not underestimate China's determination and capability to maintain stability in the South China Sea. Currently, Philippine authorities and Western media have been continuously engaging in attention-seeking, live-streaming provocations. Besides exposing their attempts to wage a "public opinion war" to discredit China, it further demonstrates the lack of strategic thinking by the Marcos Jr government on critical issues related to regional peace and stability, putting the Philippines' national image and national security in a perilous situation. Philippine authorities should promptly cease such meaningless sensationalism and return to the path of resolving South China Sea disputes through negotiations and dialogue with China, and by reaching the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea as soon as possible.
Many cities in China, including Beijing, Central China’s Henan Province and North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, are experimenting with the nucleic acid self-testing, with the sampling done by individuals, with health officials responsible for guidance and sample collection.
“It's very convenient to complete nucleic acid tests at home without having to wait in line,” said several residents of Fengtai district in Beijing, describing their previous experience. Some neighborhoods in Beijing’s Fengtai have already launched at home self-testing.
The city of Ordos in Inner Mongolia and Xinxiang in Henan Province have also trialed self-testing in different forms. Residents can test at home through the collection swabs issued by neighborhood officials, or they can collect themselves at the nucleic acid testing stations located in and around residential compounds.
A resident from Inner Mongolia told the media that local residents can obtain cotton swabs at nucleic acid testing stations, and that health officials will help place the swabs into the sample tube after the residents complete their own sampling.
“There are workers on site to guide sampling which is fast and convenient, and it also avoids time wasting and risk of cross-infection,” said a resident who had used the service.
Several neighborhoods in Beijing’s Fengtai began distributing testing reagents to residents early in the morning. “We started distributing sampling tubes at 9:30 am, and collect completed samples at 15:00 pm in the afternoon,” a community worker said.
“The implementation of self-sampling is mainly in consideration of groups who have limited mobility,” a community worker told the media. “The service is focused on providing convenience to children and seniors.”
In addition, more than 300 new nucleic acid sampling machines appeared on the streets of Henan Province’s Xinxiang mainlyin shopping malls, supermarkets, schools and other public places.
These units can carry out testing using a cotton swab to wipe the back of the throat, after the device issued a "test passed" prompt, individuals place the cotton swabs into a waiting test tube.
This kind of machine only needs people to open their mouths at the unit following disinfection and temperature measurement, with a cotton swab to wipe their throats. “This type of test is more suitable for younger people,” a Xinxiang resident noted.
However, some experts also have doubts about whether this measure could be effective. “Nucleic acid testing has a series of collection procedures and specifications, and even some professionally trained medical staff cannot meet the full standards,” a Guangzhou-based medical expert told the Global Times on Sunday.
It is debatable whether requiring these residents to take a self-sampling of nucleic acid without any symptoms would be effective in detecting infections, Yang Zhanqiu, a professor of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, told the Global Times.
A total of 145 children from border regions and areas that receive aid met at the Three Gorges Dam in Central China's Hubei Province over the weekend during a themed summer camp to learn about the great achievement of the project.
The event aims to inspire students' sense of national pride, confidence, and the spirit of progress. As well as a field trip to the Three Gorges Dam in Yichang, Hubei, there are various activities such as visiting the Three Gorges Power Station, Three Gorges Project Museum, and the Yangtze River Rare Fish Breeding Center.
The majority of the participating students are from ethnic minority regions such as North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and Southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region. These areas are also designated areas for aid and support from the Three Gorges Group.
"I flew on a plane for the first time, and it was my first time on a ship. I'm so happy!" said Zubaiyier Maimaitijiang from Xinjiang's Bayingolin Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture. "The scenery of the Three Gorges is beautiful, and the Three Gorges Dam is magnificent!"
"This is the first time I have left my hometown to participate in an educational activity, and I've gained a lot. Seeing the majestic Three Gorges Dam makes me very happy," said Luobu Cuomu, from Dingqing county, Xizang.
Since 2006, nearly 10,000 outstanding students from primary and secondary schools in areas targeted for aid, as well as ethnic minority regions, have participated in this activity organized by the China Three Gorges Corporation, which can also contribute to the development of educational endeavors in these regions.
Ice removal may soon become a lot easier. Researchers have developed a new method for making ice-phobic surfaces by altering the density and slipperiness of spray-on polymer coatings.
The process, reported online March 11 in Science Advances, could lead to a wide range of long-lasting ice-repellent products including windshields, airplane wings, power cables and frozen food packaging, researchers say.
Scientists know that ice easily detaches from softer, less dense materials. Further adjusting the density of rubber polymers used to make the coatings and adding silicone or other lubricants such as vegetable oil, cod-liver oil and safflower oil amplifies the effect, Anish Tuteja, a materials science engineer at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues found. In multiple laboratory and field tests, ice slid off treated surfaces under its own weight or when it was pushed by mild wind. The researchers further tested the coatings’ durability on various surfaces such as metal license plates and glass panes. The coatings performed well through two Michigan winters and retained their ice-repelling properties after controlled exposure to icing and heat cycles, corrosive substances such as hydrochloric acid, and wear and tear.
The process has already yielded more than 100 different coatings tailored for specific surfaces, including metal, glass, wood, plastic and cardboard. Tuteja says his team is working on licensing the materials for commercial use.