China delivers third maritime patrol ship to Pakistan

On April 11, China officially handed a 600-ton patrol ship over to Pakistan’s maritime safety authority in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. Among other things, the ship will be used to safeguard Pakistan’s maritime interests.

The new ship, just the third of its kind, was built by China Shipbuilding Trading Company Ltd. (CSTC) and China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) Xijiang Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. Its two predecessors have already demonstrated their reliability and excellent performance during visits and exchanges, joint drills, maritime rescue and other missions in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s maritime safety authority expressed great appreciation for the quality of the ships and for sound cooperation with Chinese ship manufactures, who have promised to provide after-sale services. The ships are key to consolidating China-Pakistan relations, protecting Pakistan’s sea transportation and pushing forward the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Belt and Road Initiative.

Mongolian food becomes 9th major Chinese cuisine

The Association of Cuisine and Catering Industry (ACCI) of China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region officially announced on April 16 that Mongolian food will become the ninth major cuisine of China.

Located in northern China, Inner Mongolia has a broad and historical food culture. Experts believe that Mongolian dishes conform well to the modern culinary emphasis on ecology, health and nutrition, and that they deserve recognition as a major cuisine.

According to Lang Lixing, president of ACCI of Inner Mongolia, the organization has established standards for Mongolian food and local cuisine through years of efforts and in cooperation with the Inner Mongolia Institute of Standardization.

Prior to the announcement, the eight major cuisines of China were Shandong, Jiangsu, Guangdong, Sichuan, Zhejiang, Fujian, Hunan and Anhui food. Mongolian cuisine will inevitably promote changes in the catering industry as it becomes the ninth major cuisine. For instance, a chef from Paris currently working in China praised the flavor of Mongolian cuisine, saying he would promote Mongolian food in his own country.

The inclusion of Mongolian food as a major Chinese cuisine was supported by experts from the China Cuisine Association and China Hospitality Association. Experts noted that the eight preexisting major cuisines were simply recognized by the public,without any authoritative approval, and the same rule should also be applied to Mongolian cuisine.

Lang said that in addition to cementing the cuisine’s position in China, ACCI will also expand its profile overseas.

China’s investment in Belt and Road countries warms up in Q1

China’s investment in the Belt and Road countries continued to rise in the first quarter of 2017, despite an overall decrease in the country’s outbound direct investment.

In the first three months of 2017, Chinese enterprises invested $2.95 billion in the non-financial sectors of 43 countries along the Belt and Road route, accounting for 14.4 percent of total outbound investment in that period. That figure is up 5.4 percent compared with the same period last year, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce on April 18.

In the first quarter of 2017, total non-financial outbound investment reached $20.5 billion, registering a dramatic drop of 48.8 percent year on year. The investments span 129 countries and regions.

China’s outbound investment is flowing mainly into manufacturing, business services, information transmission, software and information technology services.

A total of 952 contracts have been inked with 61 countries along the route. The contracts have turned over $14.39 billion, up 4.7 percent year on year, accounting for 49.2 percent of total turnover in the period.

New contracts have substantially driven export growth. In the first three months of 2017, commodities worth a total of $3.47 billion were exported, up 28.4 percent year on year.

China’s carrier fleet must sail beyond offshore zone



China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, as part of a fleet of Chinese warships, set off for an open-sea training exercise recently. American and Japanese analysts believe that the Liaoning and its fleet will go beyond the first island chain and head to the Western Pacific. Some believe it will go to the South China Sea. The drill indicates that the combat capability of China’s aircraft carrier has enhanced and its areas of operation have expanded.

The fleet, including the Liaoning, will grow to have the leading combat capability among Western Pacific countries. But it lags behind the US main aircraft carrier fleet in terms of fighting capacity and experience. The Liaoning and its fleet represent a necessary step as Chinese navy advances.

China’s defense ministry said the Liaoning is used for “scientific research, experiment and training.” The Chinese-made aircraft carriers are under construction, and in a few years, China will have more aircraft carriers that bear more combat capabilities. This will not be far off.

The role of the Liaoning should not be confined to military technological experiments. It should also test the geopolitical role Chinese aircraft carriers play and the response of major world powers to China’s buildup of its navy.

Aircraft carriers are strategic tools which should be used to show China’s strength to the world and shape the outside world’s attitude toward China. It is not built for war only. Chinese aircraft carriers must set off on a long journey. China’s core interests are mainly offshore, but the range of aircraft carriers must go beyond offshore areas. The rivalry must be extended to wider areas so as to ease China’s offshore pressure.

As China’s only aircraft carrier fleet now, it should have the ability and courage to sail further. It should not only pass the first island chain, but also sail past the second island chain and go to the waters where Chinese cruise fleets have never been.

The Chinese fleet will cruise to the Eastern Pacific sooner or later. When China’s aircraft carrier fleet appears in offshore areas of the US one day, it will trigger intense thinking about maritime rules.

The distant sailing of the Chinese aircraft carrier fleet is not aimed at provoking the US nor at reshaping maritime strategic structure. But if the fleet is able to enter areas where the US has core interests, the situation when the US unilaterally imposes pressure on China will change.

China should speed up launching its new aircraft carriers so as to activate their combat.

In addition, China needs to think about setting up navy supply points in South America right now.

Chinese people love peace, but the Chinese military must be resolute. China will not be easily irritated, but once it is, it will take firm countermeasures. The Liaoning and its fleet is expected to experience the cruel geopolitical competition and become a standard bearer of the Chinese navy.

With iron will and key allies, Syria’s Assad defies expectations

Written off by the West, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has defied all expectations of his downfall, thanks to his iron will but also his crucial alliances with Russia and Iran.

Syria’s army declared Thursday it has recaptured all of Aleppo, allowing the 51-year-old president to deal a potentially knock-out blow to the opposition forces that rose up against him in 2011.

“The liberation of Aleppo is not only a victory for Syria but also for those who really contribute to the fight against terrorism, notably Russia and Iran,” state news agency SANA quoted Assad as saying before the army announcement.

For nearly six years, Assad has been able to count on his bloodied but loyal armed forces, his powerful intelligence services and the support of many people in Syria terrified by the rise of jihadist forces such as the Islamic State group.

His opponents, meanwhile, have often been deeply divided and disorganised, and received timid backing from Western and Arab Gulf allies unwilling to stand by their side militarily.

Assad, analysts said, was able to survive because he never wavered in his deep belief that he had no choice but to fight on.

Key dates in the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.© Provided by AFP Key dates in the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

“It has always been a struggle for life and death. There was no question of stopping this war. It was either win or lose,” said Nikolaos van Dam, a former Dutch ambassador and Syria expert.

“The regime has half a century of experience of how to stay in power. It has the support of the army and security services,” he said.

“Popular support is not that decisive, but comes among others from minorities that feel threatened by Islamists and jihadists.”

Having arrived in power in 2000 following the death of his father Hafez, who ruled Syria with an iron fist for 30 years, Assad was taken by surprise by the revolution.

– Sure of ‘ultimate victory’ –

Inspired by the Arab Spring movement sweeping the Middle East, opponents of Assad’s rule rose up in a wave of protests across the country.

Assad did not hesitate and the protests were violently suppressed, with the Syrian leader denouncing his opponents as either jihadists, foreign agents of a conspiracy concocted by the United States and Israel, or both.

Syrians living in Turkey hold signs during a protest against Russia, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's regime ally, in front of the Russian Embassy along Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul on December 17, 2016© Provided by AFP Syrians living in Turkey hold signs during a protest against Russia, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime ally, in front of the Russian Embassy along Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul on December 17, 2016

Opposition forces took up arms and many of the rebels were hailed in the West and Sunni Gulf Arab states — long enemies of Assad’s Shiite-linked regime — as the vanguard of a democratic Syria.

Still, despite some tentative efforts to provide arms and training to opposition forces, the revolution’s backers never cracked Assad’s conviction that he was going to win the war, analysts said.

“Assad advisers maintained from the beginning that they were confident of success so long as the United States Air Force did not bomb Damascus or get involved in the war,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Even at the regime’s worst moment, when his forces were driven in March 2015 from Idlib province, “Assad and his advisers brushed off their defeats as limited”, Landis said.

“They always projected a strong sense of self-assurance in their ultimate victory.”

Patience was vital, analysts said, with Assad — no matter how isolated from the West — willing to hold out for as long as it took to put down the rebellion.

“He was from the same school as his father, and this school has always understood the importance of time, how to turn bad headwinds into good,” said Waddah Abed Rabbo, editor-in-chief of Syria’s influential Al-Watan daily newspaper.

Still, the key to his victory, Abed Rabbo and others said, was the steadfast support Assad was able to count on from his foreign allies.

“He never doubted his victory because he knew that his country had for decades nourished a solid strategic alliance with Russia, Iran and others,” he said.

– Old, strong alliances –

Those alliances date back decades.

The Soviet Union was a major supporter of Assad’s father, and Syria’s ruling elite — hailing from the Alawite branch of Shiite Islam — have long had close ties with Shiite-dominated Iran.

“Syria’s relations with its allies are old and founded on… interests that are still valid today,” said Souhail Belhadj, a political scientist at the Geneva-based Institute of International and Development Studies.

Emboldened by his win in Aleppo, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad now has little reason to make any concessions to the opposition© Provided by AFP Emboldened by his win in Aleppo, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad now has little reason to make any concessions to the opposition

“The Syrian regime has always shown itself to be a loyal military, strategic, political, ideological and economic ally for as long as this alliance has lasted.”

In contrast, as Syria’s war dragged on, the opposition saw its support dwindle away.

The “Friends of Syria” group, formed in 2012 by Western and Gulf nations to support the rebellion, backed the National Coalition as the country’s recognised opposition and imposed sanctions on the regime.

But that support, analysts said, never went far enough.

“The weakness of Assad’s enemies has to a great extent been determined by insufficient support of the ‘friends’ of the Syrian opposition,” van Dam said.

Emboldened by his win in Aleppo, Assad now has little reason to make any concessions to the opposition.

“He will rule much as he has in the past, using a combination of intimidation and patronage,” Landis said. “We have seen that the Assads are unable to change the fundamental nature of the regime.”

Kellyanne Conway Brings Blunt Talk About Gender to the White House

Kellyanne Conway’s appointment Thursday as counselor to the president elevates a woman to a key position of power in an administration that’s faced criticism over being too white and male.

Out of 26 named White House staff or cabinet members thus far, only six, including Conway, are women. She remains the only woman in a top-level staff position in the Trump White House, joining chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon.

In announcing her new role, the Trump administration heralded her as having “shattered the glass ceiling for women” by being the first female presidential campaign manager to win a general election. And the longtime GOP strategist, who rose to prominence in Republican politics in part as a pollster specializing on Republican women, has never been shy about addressing her gender.

“I’m a female consultant in the Republican Party, which means when I walk into a meeting at the RNC or somewhere I always feel like I’m walking into a bachelor party in the locker room of the Elks club,” she once told the New Yorker.

But last week Conway seemed to acknowledge that the flip side of being a woman in politics — having to juggle a nonstop, high-stress job with the demands of parenting four young children — could’ve kept her out of the White House entirely.

“I do politely mention to them the question isn’t would you take the job, the male sitting across from me who’s going to take a big job in the White House. The question is, ‘Would you want your wife to?'” she noted at an event hosted by Politico. “Would you want the mother of children to? You really see their entire visage change. It’s like, ‘Oh, no, they wouldn’t want their wife to take that job.'”

On Thursday, however, she insisted there would be room for both her family and her job in the Trump White House.

“[President-elect Trump] is gracious, he’s a gentleman, and he’s all about family, and he means that with other people’s families. So I’m not worried about the family-friendliness of the Trump White House,” she said on Fox News’ podcast.

And Conway’s years of parenting four children may indeed have contributed to her success during the campaign, and helped make her such an integral part of Trump’s inner circle. She became known as the “Trump Whisperer” for her ability to reign in and guide an unpredictable and often uncontrollable candidate prone to damaging outbursts.

In an October interview with New York Magazine, she memorably described her strategy for dealing with Trump’s penchant for controversial tweets in terms of curbing a child’s sweet tooth.

“You had these people saying, ‘Delete the app! Stop tweeting!'” Conway said. “I would say, ‘Here are a couple of cool things we should tweet today.’ It’s like saying to someone, ‘How about having two brownies instead of six?'”

From her telling, Conway’s White House role will be a little bit of everything — “whatever the President wants it to be,” she said on CNN Thursday.

“It is likely to include communications, and is likely to include data and strategy,” she said.

But she’ll have the time to do it all — parent, strategize inside and outside the White House — precisely because, she said Thursday, she’s not a man in politics. Turning the stereotype of the working mother unable to juggle multiple responsibilities on its head, Conway said on Fox Business News that unlike many men, she doesn’t spend her free time on unnecessary distractions.

“I would say that I don’t play golf, I don’t have a mistress. So, I have a lot of time that these other men don’t. I see people on the weekend, they spend an awful lot of time on their golf games and that’s there right, but the kids, they’ll be with me,” she said.

Chinese underwater robotics industry faces achievement gap: experts


[File photo]

China’s underwater robot technology has advanced significantly in recent years, but the country still faces problems, including a lack of applicable products and relatively slow transformation process from technologies to applicable products, experts said.

In 2016, China’s underwater robot industry saw fast development. In January, the homegrown unmanned autonomous underwater vehicle Qianling-2 accomplished its first undersea mission, searching the seabed and collecting high-precision hydrological data.

In August, Haidou-1, China’s domestic underwater glider, dove over 10,767 meters below sea level, making China the third country after Japan and the U.S. to have built submersibles capable of reaching depths in excess of 10,000 meters.

Though China’s progress in underwater robot technology has been recognized by the international community, the country still lags behind compared to many developed nations. It is time-consuming to transform technologies into actual products, and China still has a long way to go to establish a mature industrial system.

“In the U.S., an underwater robot can be tested hundreds of times per year, while in China we can only test the robot dozens of times [due to the slow process of technological transformation]. In the long run, China will fall even further behind,” Liu Jian, chief designer of Qianling-2, told Economic Information Daily.

Feng Xisheng, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, pointed out that China needs to build a system covering the research, design, manufacturing, application and talent training of underwater robots. While other countries have established distinct industrial sectors to develop such technologies, underwater robots in China are mainly studied at research centers, with few companies taking part in the process.

Experts believe that favorable policies and a mature system should be established in China to promote its underwater robotics industry, which is crucial for the country’s sustainable development and national security.

Rural Chinese students to visit UK for soccer exchange

Thirteen children from rural areas of Yuzhong County, Gansu province will visit the U.K. for a two-week soccer exchange program before the end of December.

Most of the children are from remote mountainous areas. Though some have played soccer outside the province before, this is the first international exchange in which the students will participate.

“I’ve heard of the U.K., and it’s an ancient country,” said Yang Boyuan, one of the participating children.

Short training courses at Arsenal football club will be arranged for the children after they arrive in U.K. Meanwhile, they will have the opportunity to visit U.K. universities and watch Premier League games.

According to Hu Min, a teacher accompanying the children on the trip, soccer education has not only enriched the after-school lives of the students, but also provided more options for their futures. Ma Anwu, principal of a local middle school, said that the trip is of great significance for the students.

“By experiencing the culture and training methods of a true soccer power, a solid foundation will be laid for the students in terms of soccer expertise,” Ma said. The students will also be shown during the trip that they can alter their own fates through sheer effort, Ma added.

Recently, a series of activities has been carried out in Yuzhong County to promote soccer education. In addition, more and more soccer fields are being constructed in schools around the county, which will be open to the public in the future.