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.

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.

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?

Closing 'greenhouse' won't boost European EV competitiveness: Global Times editorial

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.

Enhancing strength, achieving peaceful rise is the path China should pursue

We must dare to struggle with the US and deal with its arrogant plan to contain China. At the same time, the Chinese people should understand that struggling with the US is not about turning the game between the two countries into a strategic conflict or a military contest, and not about using war to reshape the pattern of China-US relations. We must seek peace through struggle and seek coexistence and cooperation through countermeasures. The main arena of struggle between China and the US should be the vast economic field. The economy should be the "preset battlefield" for us to contend with American power and achieve China's strategic breakthrough.

Some time ago, I saw some posts on the internet claiming that Professor Li Li of the National Defense University of China "said bluntly on a TV show: When China's territory is threatened, we must launch an attack immediately to destroy the US military base. We should resolutely and decisively kill targets that directly endanger China's security to ensure the initiative in the war." Professor Li then issued a statement, denying that she had ever expressed such views.

As for this tough view of "preemptively attacking US military bases," I felt it was false at first glance. I believe that only very extreme people would enjoy saying this. The possibility of China launching a "preemptive attack" on US military bases in the Asia-Pacific is basically zero. Similarly, I believe that under the current strategic situation, the possibility of the US launching an attack on China, a nuclear power, is basically zero. China-US tensions are far from being that serious. Regardless of whether it is the US or China, anyone who advocates launching a "pre-emptive military attack" against the other side is being seriously irresponsible.

Advocating a "pre-emptive" devastating strike against US military bases - isn't this an attempt to create another Pearl Harbor incident? Have those people thought about what would happen next? Similarly, if the US launches an attack on China's military bases, would China not carry out devastating retaliation? Neither China nor the US can afford to fight such a war. I advocate that China should massively upgrade its nuclear power and establish conventional military superiority over the US in the Western Pacific in order to curb the strategic ambitions and impulses of the American hawks and consolidate peace.

The continuous upgrading of China's military and comprehensive capabilities has given us the initiative on how to resolve the Taiwan question and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. We no longer need to be irritated by the US militarily. We retain the option of reunifying Taiwan through non-peaceful means, but this is different from reversing the pattern of the China-US strategic game through war.

The US is a relatively powerful party, and it will be a long process for us to achieve a strategic reversal. Enhancing our strength and achieving a further peaceful rise is the path that China should strive to pursue the most. We are a nuclear power and our comprehensive strength forms an effective deterrent, which makes our peaceful rise highly realistic. We must maintain bottom-line thinking, prepare for the worst, and convince the outside world that we are not afraid of war and cannot be overwhelmed. However, this is completely different from the belief that China and the US must have a war.

There are some very extreme claims on the internet that the central task now should be to "prepare for war." Sometimes I feel that if one doesn't advocate "preparing for war with the US" online, accusations of being a capitulator will follow. It is quite normal that there are hard-liners on the internet. It is not necessarily a bad thing that public opinion is diverse. However, those voices that should be relatively marginalized are unwilling to be marginalized and want to rush to the leading position of public opinion. Such wrong self-positioning should not be accommodated by our society.

One of the purposes of the struggle with the US is to continue China's opening-up, because the US' strategic suppression of China can also be seen as an attempt to block China's door to the outside world. If China-US relations become more tense, we may become timid in opening up to the outside world. We must not do so. This would play into the hands of the anti-China elites in the US. China's national policy is completely different from this. Opening up to the outside world is being fully promoted in China. Most exchanges between China and the US cannot be interrupted due to obstruction by some political elites in the US, and our exchanges with the West and the entire world cannot be interrupted.

Let us have enough power to deter the US, and at the same time have enough patience to engage in complex games and exchanges with the US. We must maintain a complex relationship that is difficult to define, use our strategic initiative to guide China-US relations, and prevent both sides from moving in the direction of being enemies. I believe that doing this well is the great strategy and great wisdom of the Chinese nation.

Manila’s SCS aggression result of strategic error

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.