47,000 tourists evacuated from quake-hit Jiuzhaigou

Rescue teams quickly responded to the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Jiuzhaigou county in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province Tuesday night, killing 20 and leaving 431 others injured, evacuating thousands of tourists.

All 47,000 tourists had been transferred to safer places as of 6 pm, local news site newssc.org reported.

About 38,000 tourists visit Jiuzhaigou daily from Saturday to Monday, according to the Jiuzhai Valley National Park.

The Aba prefecture government told the Global Times Wednesday that more than 1,000 foreigners were being transferred. Reports said four foreign tourists were injured.

The Blue Sky Rescue Team arrived in Jiuzhaigou county at midnight Tuesday and worked overnight trying to help evacuate and rescue tourists, Gou Shaolin, head of the team, told the Global Times.

Gou said many tourists are safe but in shock.

A soldier carries an injured elderly woman to the hospital on Wednesday after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan Province Tuesday night. Photo: IC

“Part of our job is to comfort and calm them down,” Gou noted.

A tourist surnamed Li told the Global Times that they were watching dramas about the 2008 Sichuan earthquake when the current earthquake struck.

“The performers panicked on the stage and shouted, ‘Earthquake! earthquake!’ but we thought the shaking was part of the special effects,” Li said, adding that it took a while for tourists to realize a real earthquake was taking place and began evacuating.

Chinese seismologists warned that there might be more aftershocks in the coming days.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for all-out efforts to rapidly organize relief and rescue work, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Xi said authorities should check on the earthquake’s impact, evacuate and settle visitors and local people, and reduce the numbers of deaths and injuries as much as possible, said Xinhua.

Premier Li Keqiang also urged local authorities to go all out in their relief and monitoring work.

Feng Zhenglin, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), confirmed the immediate activation of level-III emergency response procedures, urging civil aviation authorities to cooperate with local government in disaster relief efforts.

The CAAC has instructed airports to keep track of available runways and gate positions while asking airlines to help in the emergency evacuation of tourists in the disaster-hit area.

The National Development and Reform Commission said it plans to give Sichuan 60 million yuan ($8.92 million) to rehabilitate the area’s infrastructure.

The Ministry of Transport has also initiated level-II emergency response procedures and formed a leading group to guide local transportation authorities to aid rescue efforts.

Aside from government agencies, civic organizations and companies are contributing to rescue operations.

The Sichuan Red Cross has received more than 360 million yuan worth of donations as of 12 pm Wednesday, the China News Service (CNS) reported.

Second quake

Sichuan was not the only area hit by a strong earthquake.

A 6.6-magnitude tremor shook Jinghe county in the Bortala Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture, Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC) announced. Thirty-four people were reportedly injured.

“These two earthquakes were caused by the activity of the Earth’s tectonic plates, and they may not be related to each other,” Xu Deshi, a researcher at the China Earthquake Administration, told the Global Times on Wednesday, adding that Jinghe and Jiuzhaigou are located on different plates and in different earthquake zones.

However, the fact that the second earthquake occurred soon after the first one may indicate that China has entered a period of relatively high seismic activity, CENC researcher Sun Shihong said.

“An effective warning system needs to be accurate and quick before an earthquake hits. However, its effect is limited to near the quake’s epicenter and works best in areas 100 to 200 kilometers away,” Xu said.

Source: Global Times

Play it loud: Smart speaker market heats up

DingDong smart speakers Photo: Courtesy of Beijing LingLong Tech Co

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology developed by tech giants has turned the humble speaker into the tech world’s latest infatuation, and Chinese tech mammoth Alibaba Group Holding wants a piece of the action.

The company is getting ready to officially roll out its AI-powered home speaker next month in its bid for a slice of the burgeoning market pioneered by its US counterpart Amazon.

The hands-free speaker, dubbed “Tmall Genie X1,” is equipped with virtual voice assistant AliGenie, which reacts to voice commands in Putonghua. It is now in its testing stage at a price of 499 yuan ($73.40) and is set to be ready for Chinese end users on August 8.

Similar to Amazon’s Echo, Tmall Genie X1 features functions such as smart home control, music playback, and setting reminders, while also enabling consumers to easily buy goods online.

In the view of Qian Xue, head of Alibaba’s AI team, the AI-powered speaker is expected to promote a new mode of interaction between humans and computers: controlling electronic devices via voice.

Compared with the voice, a natural form of communication, the current touch-screen technology is unlikely to be the best interaction method, despite its wide application in smartphones, Qian said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Monday.

Alibaba is not the only Chinese company to dip its toes into the smart speaker segment.

China’s second-largest online retailer JD.com Inc has already tested the waters via its $25 million joint venture, Beijing LingLong Tech Co, with leading Chinese voice technology company iFlytek in 2015, following hot on the heels of Amazon.

Priced at 698 yuan on JD, its flagship Wi-Fi-enabled DingDong AI smart speaker can hear and respond to voice commands, just like most smart speakers in the market.

In an e-mailed reply to the Global Times on Tuesday, JD described the DingDong smart speaker as “the strategic product” for its application of AI.

Promising venture

Intelligent home speakers will challenge smartphones in the home of the future, analysts from US-based market consultancy Strategy Analytics predicted in a report released in late February.

David Watkins, director of the Connected Home Devices unit with Strategy Analytics, said in the report that the promise of such hands-free interaction with the Internet is “a very compelling one.”

Home smart speakers such as Amazon’s Echo and JD’s DingDong have already caused a wave of excitement among consumers.

Sales of DingDong smart speakers rose 378 percent year-on-year during this year’s 20-day shopping festival starting from June 1 on the JD platform, according to media reports.

When contacted by the Global Times, JD did not reveal the specific sales figures of DingDong since it was first launched in May 2015.

Last year, shipments of smart speakers reached 5.9 million units globally, according to the Strategy Analytics report. The value of the market is expected to exceed $1.5 billion this year and reach $5.5 billion by 2020.

US market research firm Gartner also sees the smart speaker market as a promising one, expecting 3.3 percent of global households to adopt speakers with virtual personal assistants by 2020.

As the frontrunner in the smart speaker market, Amazon’s Echo has maintained its dominance since its debut in 2014. The latest data from Strategy Analytics showed that strong demand for Echo has brought the number of speakers based on Amazon’s voice assistant system Alexa in use to over 6 million by the end of 2016.

Alexa seized 88 percent of the world’s smart home speaker market in the fourth quarter of last year, while Google’s Assistant occupied a 10 percent share over the reported quarter following the launch of its Home speaker last November.

Looming competition

Currently, Echo and Home, which respond mainly to English speakers, are not readily available in China.

“But this does not mean the nation’s smart speaker players do not need to concern themselves about the possible competition from the Western world,” Li Yi, a senior research fellow at the Internet Research Center under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Tuesday.

Chinese consumers with the money to spend can always find a way to purchase US cutting-edge electronic gadgets, even though they are not officially sold in the country, said Li.

Several Chinese consumers have picked up Echo at the price of 1,799 yuan via JD, information on JD’s marketplace showed.

There has also been market speculation that Apple is intending to launch its new smart speaker HomePod in China. The Siri-powered, music-focused HomePod, unveiled by Apple in June, will first become available in the US, UK and Australia for $349 in December.

China, home to nearly 20 percent of the world’s population and a fast-growing economy, is widely perceived as a lucrative and attractive market.

In competing with Western tech veterans, domestic firms such as Alibaba and JD may lag behind in terms of AI technology development, but they have the chance to lead the Chinese smart speaker market, given their edge in the offering of localized services, said Li.

In the view of Wei Qiang, CEO of Beijing LingLong Tech, knowing what the customer needs is crucial.

“The key to the success of smart speakers is identifying potential customer demand and building up the scenarios to meet customer demand,” Wei told the Global Times Tuesday.

The DingDong-adapted JD Alpha, an AI services system developed by JD, now allows full voice control of more than 10 million smart products in over 60 categories covering items such as rice cookers, air conditioners and curtains.

Alibaba’s AliGenie, a latecomer to the game, is developing new location-based functions such as food delivery calls, in addition to traditional features such as smart home control and playing music.

At present, both DingDong and Tmall Genie X1 are only targeting the Chinese market.

China’s smart speaker industry is still in its early stages and full of huge opportunities as more and more customers get to know the convenience that smart speakers can bring them, said Wei.

Source: Global Times


Beijing Marriott Hotel Northeast holds Yunnan Food Festival

August is the rainy season and also the season for Yunnan wild mushrooms. The Bite of Yunnan Food Festival is being held from August 7 to 20 at Beijing Marriott Hotel Northeast. The Chef who is from Yunnan will create authentic Yunnan cuisine for the customers.

The high nutritional value of the wild mushroom with a variety of cooking methods is the main feature of the Yunnan Food Festival. Dishes like pan fried mat stake mushroom, sautéed shrimp with morel mushroom, sautéed porcini mushroom with bell pepper, marinated shredded chicken with lime, lemon grass and marinated deer horn mushroom are all recommended by the chef and are promised to bring guests a memorable experience through a delectable Yunnan food journey.

Source: Global Times

Chinese games prosper beyond border

China’s game developers, big or small, are busily exploring the overseas markets, not only in developed countries like the US, but also in emerging markets like India. The Global Times recently spoke with several Chinese developers about how they are conquering global markets with Made-in-China games. However, it seems that challenges have also emerged.

Looking back to 20 years ago, the video game was somewhat of an ambiguous concept for many Chinese. But now, the Chinese gaming industry has reached a phase of development whereby it is spreading beyond the Chinese border.

Two Chinese games were on the 2016 “Best Web Games” list compiled by Facebook. They are League of Angels II, a role-playing game developed by Shanghai-based Yoozoo Games, and role-playing game Naruto Online, developed by Hong Kong-headquartered Oasis Games.

On the Facebook page of League of Angels II, the Global Times noticed that more than 450,000 people “like” the game by press time on Tuesday.

Chinese games have also gained popularity on US digital game distribution platform Google Play.

For example, Piano Tiles 2, a rhythm game developed by Beijing-based Cheetah Mobile, was on Google Play’s hot mobile games ranking list.

Wang Si’en, Piano Tiles 2’s game developer and vice president of Cheetah Mobile, said that Piano Tiles 2 ranked at the top of gaming lists in 150 countries and regions, including the US and Japan where market access is the most difficult.

“The global market always holds an open attitude toward Chinese games, and they can achieve great popularity globally as long as the quality is high,” Wang told the Global Times on Monday.

Video game players compete against each other at an e-Sports convention held in Lyon, France in March. Photo: IC

Testing overseas waters

In recent years, more and more domestic game developers have been testing the waters overseas.

An Jianwang, president of the overseas sales department under Cheetah Mobile, said that Cheetah has been helping about 300 domestic game developers, big or small, explore the international market over the past four years.

“Five years ago, domestic game developers went abroad mostly because they faced survival pressure in the home market, so they often fought on their own in the global market. Nowadays, developers like to work together and tend to focus more on the mobile game sector,” An told the Global Times on Monday.

An also noted that diverse strategies had been adopted by different companies, with some big gaming companies being prone to entering the overseas market via acquisition of foreign gaming studios.

China’s tech mammoth Tencent Holdings reportedly invested in UK-based gaming studio Milky Tea on August 2.

Just a few days before then, the company also bought 9 percent of shares of Frontier Developments, another UK-based video game developer. Tencent hadn’t commented on those investments as of press time Tuesday.

Smaller firms are also busily exploring the overseas market. An said some of them even position the overseas market as their only business target.

One of such companies is Veewo Games, a Xiamen-based gaming company whose games like Super Phantom Cat are very popular on Google Play.

“We now mostly target overseas markets, and the domestic market is just a bonus for us,” Jason Yeung, CEO of Veewo, told the Global Times on Friday.

Apart from developed countries like the US, emerging markets are also attracting Chinese game developers.

Yoozoo, which has gained some advantages in mature markets like the US and Europe, also started to tap emerging markets like Russia.

In March, Yoozoo set up a subsidiary in Pune, India.

“We made this decision because we recognize that the big population base and booming mobile industry [in India] will bring about ample development space for potential mobile games,” Yoozoo’s vice president Liu Wanqin told the Global Times on Monday. “Now it’s time to break into that market, nurture user habits and set up brand reputation.”

She also noted that Yoozoo’s first online gambling card game in India Teen Patti is quite popular among local users.

Big fortune ahead?

Yoozoo’s overseas revenues stood at 1.268 billion yuan ($189 million) in 2016, up 64.55 percent year-on-year, said Liu.

As its products were welcomed mostly by US players, Veewo said it now gains about 60 percent of the company’s income from overseas markets.

Yeung bets that the proportion is expected to become even larger in the future.

Chinese game developers’ revenues in overseas markets surged by about 130 percent year-on-year in the first six months of 2017, according to a report published by domestic news site yicai.com on July 31.

Moreover, according to Liu from Yoozoo, Chinese developers currently account for about 27 percent of all game revenues generated in Southeast Asia, and about 33 percent in the Middle East and Russia.

However, in an interview with the Global Times, Wesley Bao, CEO of Shanghai-based game developing start-up Coconut Island Games, said that overseas markets are not bonanzas for all Chinese game developers.

Coconut, which used to mainly target overseas users, has moved its focus back to the domestic market because it found that it is costly to meet the cultural needs of both domestic and overseas players with just one game, Bao told the Global Times on Monday.

Liu admitted that competition in the overseas market is also fierce and “you need to address hurdles like language and cultural differences” while exploring opportunities abroad.

Localization is the key

In the view of domestic developers, the key to success in overseas markets is localization.

Localization is not about translation, but about understanding local cultures, said Yeung.

For example, “you can’t promote Christmas-related games in Arab countries and you can’t say ‘blondy’ in US games as the term might be considered offensive there,” he explained.

According to Wang from Cheetah Mobile, Japanese game users are adapting slowly, so it’s hard for games to explode in Japan, but in South Korea and the US, players easily accept new things, therefore innovative games can become a hit right away there.

“For developers that want to succeed overseas, they should pay attention to the changes on those countries’ games lists and research on those hot games to find the market gaps. They should also conduct fast online surveys to see whether their games suit the tastes of local players,” Wang suggested.

He noted that English-speaking countries have a lot in common in culture, religion and language, so they can be treated as one homogenous market, “but other countries need to be treated one by one.”

Source: Global Times

Finance must resume natural role in real economy

Internal and external risks are weighing on China’s financial system, and an “explosion” of any of these problems could endanger the stability of the entire system.

Domestically, economic downward pressure has been increasing, and financial risks that were formerly concealed by rapid economic growth have been emerging. Chaotic conditions exist in some areas: there is an overheated real estate industry with related nonperforming loans, local government debt is at risk of default, and Internet finance and shadow banks are putting intense pressure on systemic liquidity.

In particular, the rapid expansion of shadow banks and their innovative products have posed great challenges to the supervisory authorities. The shadow banking system in 2016 was equivalent to 64.5 trillion yuan ($9.59 trillion), with three core products: entrusted loans, trust loans and the undiscounted bank acceptance notes.

Property risks can’t be ignored. Unlike other sectors, the real estate industry is more tightly connected with the financial industry and associated with rapid development of related financial derivatives. The credit exposure of banks to real estate in China was about 29.8 trillion yuan at the end of the first quarter of this year.

But the total may be much larger than the figure for direct loans suggests. For example, many financing platforms of local governments and corporate loans have used land and buildings as collateral, and this represents indirect credit exposure to real estate for banks.

Meanwhile, domestic regulators have often failed to keep up with the pace of market development. In some cases, regulators only act after the financial impact of excessive innovation emerges.

All these factors show that mounting risks in the financial system require close attention.

In addition, with the deepening of financial globalization, turmoil in the international financial markets is driving up China’s systemic risk. Of particular concern are the monetary policies of major economies, a source of uncertainty to the domestic financial markets.

The US interest-rate cycle is on the upswing. The interest rates cut at the end of 2015 by the US Federal Reserve caused a crash in global financial markets, including China’s stock market.

In March, China took small steps to follow the Fed in raising rates, which caused extremely tight liquidity among banks domestically. This outcome reflected a lack of preparation for a cycle of global liquidity tightening.

Compared with the interest-rate rise, greater risk may come from the balance sheet contraction of the Fed, which could start in the second half of this year. This will affect global liquidity more seriously. Meanwhile, the regulatory experience of the US after the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 deserves our attention. For instance, regulating the shadow bank system at the national level and carefully monitoring the risk from the insurance industry are important factors.

Almost all financial crises in history have resulted from abandoning the real economy to pursue financial speculation. To avoid systemic risk, finance must resume its natural role in the real economy. The sector should develop a belief in serving the real economy as its ultimate purpose, put customer needs first and optimize the financing system. These actions will be conducive to the real economy’s development.

It is necessary to establish effective mechanisms to identify, prevent and resolve risks. These will allow regulators to determine the sources of risk, conduct real-time monitoring, issue timely warnings and prevent risk. The specific design of such systems can combine international and domestic factors and resolve problems over a longer span.

This year’s National Financial Work Conference proposed to establish a committee under the State Council to deal with financial stability and development and strengthen supervision. It also emphasized serving the real economy effectively. Providing proper financial services to the real economy is the only fundamental way to prevent systemic financial risk.

The authors are respectively researcher and associate researcher of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Source: Global Times

Does record-breaking military movie signal an assertive China?

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Recently, a blockbuster movie has grabbed headlines in China, from newspapers to social media. Everyone is talking about Wolf Warriors 2, one of China’s first military action movies. This Monday, the movie set a new record in China’s box office history with total sales of 3.4 billion yuan ($507 million). The movie is still taking in about 200 million yuan each day. Wu Jing, a kung fu movie star and former national martial arts champion, directed, wrote and starred in the film.

The movie is a breakthrough. First, Chinese-made patriotic military movies have not been a popular genre among young people recently. No one including the director himself would have predicted that the film would find such box office success. Second, this movie is the first of its kind to be set outside Chinese borders. It features a former special forces soldier rescuing Chinese people from the hands of Western mercenaries in a conflict zone in Africa.

Some commentators from abroad regard Wolf Warriors 2 as a pure patriotic and nationalist movie indicative of an assertive and aggressive China.

Is it simple patriotic propaganda? The answer is clearly no. It is easy and stereotyped thinking to simply label this movie as public propaganda, but doing so will miss important political implications.

This movie is not top-down didactic, patriotic propaganda by the government. On the contrary, it is a purely commercial movie, rather than a state-initiated propaganda movie. The movie was entirely funded by private investment, a large portion by director and leading actor Wu Jing himself. He found raising the money tough, and many private investors and entertainment celebrities turned down a chance to invest. The director had to mortgage his house to finish the film.

However, to everyone’s surprise, this movie broke all the records in China’s movie history. It is more of a bottom-up approach, as the movie fed a public appetite and met their desire to see a confident and strong Chinese military force which could not only safeguard China’s national borders, but also successfully protect the safety and interests of Chinese people abroad. The latter is something new, but an urgent need for Chinese citizens, as China is increasing its presence abroad, from overseas investment to education to tourism.

This military action movie has important political implications for China’s foreign policy and security policy.

Prior to this movie, for the Chinese public, the functions of the Chinese army were constrained within Chinese borders, from disaster rescues to domestic security. This movie added another dimension to the public’s perception of China’ military. It showed in pictures and with emotions an unfamiliar and unrecognized fact that Chinese soldiers are shouldering more responsibility to safeguard the safety of Chinese citizens abroad. Part of this movie is based on real stories, when the Chinese embassies and navy evacuated Chinese nationals in Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Libya and other conflict zones.

Following the success of this movie, Chinese people will support more defensive military actions conducted by the Chinese army abroad. Its huge profits and political success will lure investment in more action movies with similar themes. As a result, these cultural products will further enhance public expectations and support for China’s military actions abroad, and a more active role for China in the international community as a responsible shareholder.

But is it indicative that China will become more assertive and aggressive? Or that China is ambitious to replace the US and become the next superhero to save the world? The answer is again no.

For observers who have preconceptions, it is hard to recognize and accept that the military actions of the Chinese soldiers that this movie promoted are defensive in nature. The heroes are not fighting to gain something for themselves, or intervening in local conflicts to attack the bad guys. The guidance for the Chinese army at home and abroad is to limit gunfire.

The leading character Leng Feng was a former special forces member. He did not receive any weapons from the Chinese navy, which was sent to evacuate Chinese nationals. A Navy commander in the film repeatedly emphasized that China could not send any troops into the war zone without UN authorization. The movie also raised a thought-provoking question, as Leng decided not only to rescue Chinese but also local African people and bring them to safety zones. The inclusiveness and equality the film promoted is beyond the narrow concept of nationalism.

When Leng and the people he has rescued pass a battlefield on their way to the port in the climax of the movie, Leng holds up a Chinese flag and asks people to throw away their guns. This shows a strong anti-war, anti-violence sentiment that would appeal to the Chinese public. The purpose of the action is to protect and rescue people, not to attack the enemy. This is in sharp contrast to the role and image of Western mercenaries in the film. While the West brings only destruction and war, China brings construction and trade.

The film is also not a simple replication of a Hollywood superhero movie. The director indeed hired the Captain America: Civil War production team for combat scenes and stunts. Many viewers said the movie is of Hollywood quality. But the purpose was not to produce another Hollywood movie, but an enthusiastic Chinese movie which could appeal to a Chinese audience and echo Chinese culture and values.

The director certainly adds creativity with the underwater fight, jeep racing and tank scenes. In that regard, foreign technology is one of the tools, not the result. The dedication and efforts of the director earned respect and support from Chinese viewers.

To understand this movie, we need to understand that ordinary Chinese people expect and support a strong Chinese military presence to offer protection and rescue when they are abroad. This urgent need is in line with the Chinese government’s increasing commitment to safeguard security and peace as a responsible power in the international community.

Source: Global Times

China, US can jointly shape international order

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

“International order” means the rules, or in other words, universal values, concepts and mechanisms, in global governance. It is shaped by major powers and followed by smaller countries. Rising powers are always attempting to break these rules and re-establish a new order that reflects their values.

The current international order was established by the US after WWII. Many believe that the order is now challenged by China, a rising power, and also by the US itself, as practices by US President Donald Trump are challenging and even destroying the current order.

The US is indeed confounded by some problems, and China is dissatisfied with the current order and is actively participating in international governance.

But Beijing will not replace Washington. This is determined by the nature of current international order.

At the beginning of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the country was excluded from the UN and didn’t participate in the establishment of the post-WWII international order. Even if Beijing now is regarded as challenging the order, it has never deviated from the current system, especially the principle of sovereign equality. For instance, mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty is at the core of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence put forward at the Bandung Conference in 1956. China has been gradually contributing to the current international order since it joined the UN in 1971.

It has taken Beijing quite a long time to adapt to international rules on sovereign security, human rights and other sensitive agendas. While China once maintained silence on security affairs, it is now playing an important role in UN peacekeeping operations, arms control and other fields. China’s increasing power is the fundamental reason for the shift.

But China is still dissatisfied with the current order. The rules represent mainly Western values, and, given political and cultural divergences, China regards many of the rules as unjust and unreasonable.

Shifts in economic strength have not been reflected by the current order. Under the current order, China has not obtained rights and discourse power that can match its strength and influence. Therefore, Beijing wants changes, but is suppressed by Washington.

China is dissatisfied with US double standards.

While Washington requires other countries to obey the rules, it does not act in accordance to the rules on most occasions, especially when the situation is unfavorable to it. Washington proposes to shape liberal and multilateral global institutions, but it has established an alliance system that excludes China.

As a result, Beijing is playing a more active role in international affairs, but this is regarded as a challenge to the current order and Washington. For instance, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and other Chinese initiatives are believed to be an effort to counter US interests. China also put forward a number of rules about the sea, outer space and the Internet that are different from US.

But Beijing has no intention to target Washington, and the conditions are immature for it to replace Washington in shaping the international order.

To begin with, China’s hard power is not strong enough, and China doesn’t have enough resources to provide public goods for the current order. Soft power is also significant in global leadership, and more efforts are needed to make Chinese values and the Chinese model win approval from other countries. Meanwhile, China is still a beneficiary of the current order. It has to be admitted that the US-led security system has to some extent facilitated peace and stability in Asia.

Therefore, even if China is dissatisfied with the current international order, it will not replace the US in making new rules in Asia and the whole world. China is not rewriting the rules, but is attempting to have a higher status in rule-making. Therefore, there is enormous room for Beijing and Washington to negotiate and cooperate.

The US can transfer some power to China so that the two countries can jointly shape the international order. In the meantime, China should clarify that it is an upholder of the current order. China is just trying to reform the rights granted to developing countries.

The author is director of the Center for China-US Cooperation, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver. This article is an abstract of his recent speech delivered in Center For China And Globalization.

Source: Global Times

No impact from calls for boycott of China

Indian businesswomen choose lighting fixtures in an exhibition in Yiwu, East China’s Zhejiang Province. File photo: IC

Despite reports of rising calls in India for boycotting Chinese goods in the wake of an ongoing military stand-off between China and India in a border area, Chinese traders’ exports of small commodities to the Indian market have remained unaffected so far, several domestic manufacturers said on Tuesday.

Industry insiders warned that since exports to India only represent a small portion of Chinese total trade volume, a boycott would only make India’s economy suffer.

“Our exports to India have grown steadily in the last two months and I have not felt any sentiment of hostility or a so-called boycott from Indian clients,” Ying Daijun, chairman of Shifeng Decorative Lighting Co in Yiwu, East China’s Zhejiang Province, told the Global Times Tuesday. The company’s exports to India account for 30 percent to 40 percent of its total revenue.

Also, the orders for lights used in one of India’s largest festivals, Diwali, which is at the end of October, are almost the same as the sales volume last year, Ying said, adding that the ordered items have already been packed and are on their way to India.

A sales representative of a decoration maker based in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, surnamed Pan, also said that the firm’s exports to India, which generates about 30 percent of its annual income, have not posted major fluctuations.

“Actually, there might be some small gains in recent months as an array of Indian traditional festivals loom,” he told the Global Times on Tuesday.

In terms of the potential sales decline following a boycott, Pan said that he is not worried. “Of course we sincerely hope that things do not get worse, but on the other hand, we have been exploring newly rising markets and have gained footholds in some [countries], which would dilute [the negative influence] and make up for the Indian market,” he said.

Ying agreed. “Our clients are spread globally, and when one market shrinks, another one will rise,” he said.

As bilateral tension mounted after the ongoing military stand-off on the border area, Indian media reported that the country’s political parties, as well as organizations and individuals, have called for its citizens to stop purchasing Chinese products.

For example, the state executive committee of India’s ruling Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) on Monday called for a boycott of Chinese goods such as toys and consumer durables, the Times of India reported.

“The BJP state executive meeting felt that we should boycott their products to teach the neighboring country a lesson,” BJP state general secretary Shobha Karandlaje was quoted as saying in the report.

Limited impact

This is not the first time that India has called for boycotting Chinese consumer goods, said Wu Shunhuang, CEO of Hong Kong-based space-sharing firm Inworks, which has a subsidy in New Delhi, capital of India.

“In the past years, similar movements have also been launched several times, but none of them were able to hurt Chinese manufacturers. So [the actual effect] this time would be more like ‘much smoke and little fire’,” Wu told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Besides, compared with “made in India” products, Chinese merchandise is relatively cheap and of great variety and high quality, especially in terms of more complicated goods which India firms lack key techniques to produce, domestic vendors pointed out.

“Based on my experience, Indian clients are always looking for cheap commodities that their citizens can afford… so it’s hard for retailers to give up Chinese-produced goods that are price competitive,” Pan said.

While domestic firms remain largely unaffected, Indian’s economy might be the one that is actually being hurt, analysts pointed out.

In 2016, China’s exports to India totaled $58.32 billion, and imports from India stood at $11.76 billion. This led to a trade deficit of $46.56 billion.

Exports to India only represented about 2.7 percent of China’s total export volume last year, meaning that the export of small commodities is almost negligible, experts said.

“The economy of India is largely dependent on China,” Wu said. “Boycotting Chinese goods could take a toll on India because the country has to produce the commodities using more labor and materials due to its low level of industrialization.”

Source: Global Times

Sea code shuts out intervention

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is surrounded by journalists at the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and its dialogue partners, in Manila, Philippines on Sunday. Photo: AP

Photo: Xinhua

The adoption by China and ASEAN countries of the framework of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea has shattered any reason for non-regional countries to intervene, experts said.

Joint efforts by China and ASEAN member countries have greatly improved the situation in the South China Sea, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Manila on Monday, stressing that China and ASEAN have the ability and the wisdom to negotiate the COC, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Both sides have successfully drawn up and adopted the framework of the COC in the South China Sea, saying they would begin substantive consultations on the text of the COC within the year after completing preparations, Wang said.

“The COC framework lays the foundation for both China and ASEAN to further negotiate the behavior and activities in the South China Sea, but does not resolve the disputes. In other words, it can help relevant countries peacefully resolve their disputes,” said Xu Liping, a researcher on Southeast Asian affairs at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The framework confirms that the disputes in the South China Sea should be negotiated by China and ASEAN, which prevents intervention from outside countries, Xu said.

External motives

However, Wang said some outside countries prefer to live in the past, turn a blind eye to the positive changes, unwilling to recognize achievements made by the joint efforts of China and ASEAN, and even issue damaging information.

“We have to ask whether some countries are unwilling to recognize that the situation in the South China Sea is stabilizing. Is the further stabilization of the South China Sea not in the interest of these countries?” he asked.

Australia, Japan and the US on Monday urged Southeast Asian countries and China to ensure that the COC is legally binding and said they strongly oppose “coercive unilateral actions,” Reuters reported on Monday.

ASEAN and China should establish a set of rules that are “legally binding, meaningful, effective, and consistent with international law,” the foreign ministers of the three countries said in a statement after a meeting in Manila.

“This shows that the US, Japan and Australia are very frustrated because their reasons to disrupt the South China Sea situation are dwindling, but they will not give up. They will increase their military presence or try to use some ASEAN members to interrupt the COC negotiations for them,” Xu said.

“We hope non-regional countries will take note of the positive changes in the South China Sea in the past year and respect the efforts that China and ASEAN have made to achieve the results,” and “we don’t want any non-regional countries to continue to tell us what to do,” Wang said.

Regional consensus

At the China-ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting on Sunday, Wang said that ASEAN foreign ministers carefully assessed the situation in the South China Sea and adopted the COC framework.

“This is the current mainstream view of countries in the region,” Wang said.

Professor Aileen SP Baviera from the Asian Center of the University of the Philippines told the Global Times that China and ASEAN have made progress to fundamentally end squabbles, and that if it fails, it would destabilize the region.

“We have cooperated and brought it back on track to resolve disputes through dialogue and negotiations by the parties directly concerned,” and “We should fully appreciate these important improvements and cherish the achievements made by our joint efforts,” Wang said.

The positive change in the South China Sea situation was also reflected in the joint communiqué issued by ASEAN foreign ministers, Wang added.

Speaking at the earlier 7th East Asia Summit (EAS) foreign ministers’ meeting, Wang said improvements to the situation in the South China Sea are more significant than last year’s.

Wang told the EAS meeting that China and ASEAN countries have the ability and wisdom to negotiate the COC.

He added that China and ASEAN will continue to press ahead with negotiations on the COC with the full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), in the hope of establishing mutually acceptable regional rules.

Source: Global Times

China marks 70th anniversary of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region

Horsemen compete in a ceremonial event on Tuesday in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the region’s founding. Photo: CFP

China on Tuesday celebrated the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, as experts said the celebration demonstrates the success of China’s regional ethnic autonomy policies.

Inner Mongolia was the first provincial-level ethnic autonomous region in the country.

China’s top political adviser Yu Zhengsheng Tuesday lauded the achievements of Inner Mongolia and expressed his hope that improving ethnic autonomy would bring a better life for people in the region, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, presented a plaque with an inscription by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Monday. It reads, “Building a beautiful Inner Mongolia, achieving the great Chinese dream” in both Chinese and Mongolian.

Yu reiterated the importance of adherence to the leadership of the CPC, which he said was the core to unite and lead people from all ethnic groups, and of firmly sticking to socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Under the leadership of the CPC, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region was established on May 1, 1947. The first session of the National People’s Congress, the country’s top legislature, included the system of regional autonomy for ethnic minorities in the constitution in 1954, Xinhua said.

Covering an area of 1.18 million square kilometers, Inner Mongolia accounts for about 12 percent of the country’s land area. The ethnic Mongolian population is 4.6 million, nearly one-fifth of the region’s total.

Over the past 70 years, the region’s GDP has expanded from 537 million yuan ($78 million) to 1.86 trillion yuan.

“Inner Mongolia set the example for founding other autonomous regions after 1949,” Xiong Kunxin, a professor of ethnic studies at Beijing’s Minzu University of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Under the regional ethnic autonomy policy in China, where ethnic minorities live in compact communities, autonomous organs of self-government are established under the unified leadership of the State. Ethnic minorities exercise autonomous rights, are masters in their own areas and administer their own internal affairs, according to china.org.cn.

After China’s reform and opening-up in 1978, Inner Mongolia has also successfully gone through the transition and developed under the market economy, thanks to its advantages in geography and resources, Wu Chuke, a professor at the School of Ethnology and Sociology at the Minzu University of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

“Also, as the Mongolian population only accounts for around 17 percent of the region, the policy has ensured the development of the minority ethnic group,” Wu said.

“The success of Inner Mongolia’s 70 years of development shows that regional ethnic autonomy suits the conditions of China and Inner Mongolia,” Xiong said, adding that the policy is an exemplar of a management model with Chinese characteristics and Chinese experience.

Various events to celebrate the anniversary include gala evenings, exhibitions and the Naadam Festival, a traditional event with horse racing and Mongolian wrestling.

Trade route

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Beijing on July 21 that Inner Mongolia has two calling cards, that of openness and ecological construction, and this will revise the world’s understanding of the region, Inner Mongolia’s nmgnews.com.cn reported.

Wang was speaking at an event to promote the region held by the foreign ministry. He noted that Inner Mongolia was the main route for trade between Asia and Europe in history, and now it has been brightened with construction under the Belt and Road initiative.

A promotional film was also released, presenting the scenery, culture and development of Inner Mongolia.

Besides its representative animal husbandry, the region could also develop high-tech industries by using its advantages of large space and rich resources, Xiong said.

However, finding a solution to retaining its ethnic diversity as it develops is an issue, Wu said, and preserving the fragile ecology of Inner Mongolia is another problem.

“Moreover, the implementation of regional ethnic autonomy focuses more on the ethnic parts, so in the future, the regional elements, including the ecology, environment and resources, should be paid attention to, together with the cultural, historic and current situation,” Xiong noted.

As Inner Mongolia is long and narrow in shape, regional development needs to be balanced. Even though the eastern part of Inner Mongolia will benefit from the massive border trade with Russia, it is far from the political center of the region, Wu said.

Source: Global Times