How the birth of a solid NPC motion reflects the progress and value of whole-process people’s democracy

Editor's Note:

China's widely watched annual "two sessions" kicked off on Monday this year. The "two sessions" refers to the annual sessions of National People's Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which are known as the country's top legislature and national political advisory body respectively.

The two sessions is a grand occasion that gathers ideas and wisdom of people of all walks of life across the country. It is an important opportunity for the world to better understand China's whole-process people's democracy, in which the people engage in democratic elections, consultations, decision-making, management, and oversight according to the law. Such democracy is not only shown in the votes taking place at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, but also embodied in a motion submitted by a NPC deputy coming from a remote area, or a consultative meeting held among some residents living in a city suburb. It can be felt in many details of Chinese people's daily life.

During this year's two sessions, the Global Times is launching a series of stories to illustrate the whole-process people's democracy from some of such details. The second story is about the birth of a well researched, high-demand NPC motion, which shows that China's NPC deputies exercise the right to respond to the real voices of the people and demonstrate the process and values of people's democracy.

As the high-speed train zoomed from Beidaihe in North China's Hebei Province to Beijing on Sunday, Li Dandan, residents' committee director of Dongjing Road Community in Beidaihe district of Qinhuangdao, was carefully reviewing the motions she was going to put forward at this year's two sessions.

She knew that she carried the hopes of the elderly residents in her community, the valuable input from nursing home staff, and the aspirations of other community workers like her across the nation.

As the train raced toward the capital, with a solid and practical motion, Li, a deputy to the NPC from Qinhuangdao, is determined to make a difference for those people she represents.

A motion of actual demand

"Work hard and present confidently when you get to Beijing!" On March 1, 86-year-old Sun Xiujuan, a resident of Li's precinct, shared her genuine concern for Li in a warm and casual manner at her home.

Watching the news about the upcoming NPC, Sun knew that Li, who she treats as a granddaughter, was about to set off on a new journey.

During their conversation, Li updated Sun on various community matters: "The elderly canteen was closed for the Spring Festival holidays, but will reopen soon. I have made sure that the menu plan will be shared in our WeChat group before reopening."

"On March 5 we will be hosting a free clinic event in our community offering services like massages, blood pressure checks for the elderly. If you're interested, just sign up through the 'Fuka (Card of good fortune in English) applet' on WeChat, our community workers will take you there," Li explained earnestly.

With a large number of elderly residents in the Dongjing Road community, where 36 percent of them are over the age of 60, Li has always prioritized providing services for them in her community work.

In 2023, Li was elected as a deputy to the 14th NPC. Throughout the year, she visited households, engaged in discussions, and had heart-to-heart talks with elderly residents to enhance community elderly care services.

This year, Li decided to bring two motions to Beijing, one of which is about the optimization of the construction of smart elderly care application platform. "The progress of the era and our country demands a shift toward intelligent elderly care services," Li told the Global Times.

According to the seventh national census released by the National Bureau of Statistics of China in May 2021, in 2020, the population aged 60 or above in China reached 260 million, accounting for 18.7 percent of the total population, of which 190 million were aged 65 or above, accounting for 13.5 percent of the total population.

In 2021, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, and the National Health Commission jointly released a statement, which required that by 2025, the scientific and technological support capacity of the smart elderly care industry will be significantly enhanced, highlighted the importance of narrowing the "digital divide" for the elderly and improving their overall well-being through technological advancements.

In Beidaihe district, Li has been involved in the pilot work of smart elderly care applications, introducing innovative services through the "Beidaihe Fuka Smart Platform" mobile app. Serving over 40,000 people, the platform offers a wide range of intelligent services, making it easier for individuals to access essential services from the comfort of their homes.

Through these exploration, Li learned the importance and the prospect of using smart technology to analyze and monitor the body index of the elderly in real-time, providing more effective and precise home services, especially for those living alone.

"As an NPC deputy, based on the fruitful practice of our district, Hebei Province, and even the whole country, I want to further enhance the grass-roots smart elderly care application platform, addressing challenges faced by the elderly and ensuring that the technology serves its intended purpose effectively,"Li said.

An idea based on practice

On the eve of the two sessions, Li is still busy in her visits with community residents and representatives from elderly health institutions.

This is not just a last-minute effort for her.

"I hope to gain inspiration from the latest interactions and see how I can further enhance my motions," she expressed passionately.

For Li, being an NPC deputy is a continuous process of learning and growth. "Ideas don't just appear out of nowhere, they are shaped by what we observe, hear and contemplate in our daily work."

Reflecting on her journey, Li recalled that a year ago, she had never imagined that she would submit a motion on the development of a smart elderly care application platform.

A visit to a smart elderly care community in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province last year planted a seed in her heart. "The modern facilities and innovative elderly care services left a deep impression on me. Subsequently, I participated in a training course, where I gained more insights on the elderly care services, particularly in the realm of smart elderly care platform development."

Li observed that in recent years, elderly care services have expanded to residential areas across China. Initiatives such as community canteens, improved rehabilitation equipment leasing, elderly-friendly home renovations, and volunteer's help like home bathing assistance, health check-ups, have been introduced.

However, through her interactions and research, Li found that there are some problems with using smart technology to care for elderly people. For example, the number of the elderly who uses the platform is relatively small; there is a shortage in the financial support for the development and maintenance of the mobile apps; and there is a lack of instructions to the group from professional personnel.

"This year, with this motion, I aim to address the obstacles faced by the elderly in utilizing smart applications, enabling the true potential of technology to benefit them," Li emphasized.

At the end of last year, Li participated in the sessions of Hebei Provincial People's Congress, focusing on elderly care issues. She engaged in fruitful discussions with provincial NPC deputies on smart elderly care, consolidating their ideas into a comprehensive reference for her motion.

Before leaving for Beijing, Li also visited the local commercial elderly nursing institutions in Beidaihe again, in order to collect more information to perfect her motion.

During this visit, Li met Shang Wenbin, deputy director of the Yanshanhui Health Care Center of China Health And Elderly Care Group, and had extensive discussions with Shang on how to establish a smart elderly care platform so that companies can contribute more to the government's efforts in promoting inclusive elderly care service.

In an interview with the Global Times, Shang shared that through interactions with NPC deputies at various levels, he recognized the significance of the smart elderly care service industry as not just a reform initiative, but a vital livelihood project linked to local economic and social progress.

A fare forth of confidence

A pen and a notebook are always by Li's side in her car, serving as her faithful companions for her duties as an NPC deputy.

This notebook has traveled with Li to countless places over the past year, witnessing her diligent note-taking during visits to residents' homes and attendance at various training and sharing sessions.

What truly inspires Li are the stories shared by experienced NPC deputies.

"One of the deputies who has been re-elected for decades is my role model," Li shared with enthusiasm. "She started as a rural woman with little political knowledge, but her honest and practical motions that truly reflected the voice from grass-roots farmers have made a significant impact on national policies in agricultural field. I aspire to follow in her footsteps."

This year, during her time in Beijing for the two sessions, Li plans to seek advice from veteran deputies, present her ideas and carefully study their feedback.

Her dedication paid off when her motion on improving the lease contract of rehabilitation aids for the disabled was well received at the two sessions 2023, earning praise from the China's Ministry of Finance.

"After sharing the good news with a disabled elderly couple in our community, seeing their tears of joy was truly heartwarming," Li recounted.

"As an NPC deputy, I have come to realize the power of advocating for the voices and needs of our residents," she noted.

"For me, putting forward a high-quality motion is to reflect the most authentic voice and needs of our residents to the central government. When the motion receives feedback from the central government and is put into practice, I felt it is a 'two-way efforts' between the government and the people," Li said.

According to official data, during the two sessions in 2023, deputies performed their duties in accordance with the law and put forward 8,314 motions. These motions have been fully processed and replied by 204 agents as of December 2023. Among them, the deputies adhered to the practice of whole-process people's democracy, maintained close ties with the people, and put forward an increasing motions on the basis of research, inspections, discussions, and visits.

As Li bid farewell to Sun, she left with a promise: "I will work tirelessly in Beijing and return to share my accomplishments with you."

Now in Beijing, with unwavering determination in her heart, Li is eagerly anticipating another wave of positive feedback that will truly impact the lives of those she tirelessly represents.

Chinese and foreign practitioners meet halfway in overcoming barriers, connect ancient wisdom to world

Diarra Boubacar, a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner from Mali, Africa, and the first foreign doctor in China to obtain a doctoral degree in TCM, had a curious experience on his first day of official practice.

When a patient opened the door of Boubacar's consultation room and saw his black face, the patient made a beeline for the receptionist to inquire why the hospital had a foreign TCM doctor.

For fear of losing this patient, Boubacar was prompted to leave his consultation room and mingle with the patients in the waiting area, reassuring them of his qualifications as a TCM doctor.

Ultimately, he won the patient over with his expertise. Since then, Boubacar has seen growing public praise as well as an increase in dedicated patients who come specially to see him.

Three decades on, Boubacar is now a renowned "lao zhong yi" (experienced TCM doctor in Chinese) living in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province. He has also helped train more than 3,000 doctors in rural areas in southwestern China.

In the future, Boubacar wishes to help promote TCM to the wider world and let more people know about and experience the benefits of ancient Chinese wisdom along with the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Boubacar was quotes as saying by Sichuan news portal

Boubacar is not the only foreigner to fall in love with the ancient practice of Chinese medicine and spent decades learning and practicing it. Although the TCM itself has widespread acceptance in the international community, foreigners who are certified to practice both in China and abroad are few. Their shared wish is to lend a hand in overcoming language and cultural barriers and create smoother channels for TCM to go global.
Medicine knows no borders

Boubacar came to China in the 1980s. His hometown is located 30 kilometers south of Segou, the second-largest city in Mali. In 1984, Boubacar graduated from university with the highest grades in the province. He started to work as a general Western medicine practitioner in his father's hospital, reported.

At that time, many medical students in Africa had the opportunity to continue their studies in the US, Western Europe, the Soviet Union, or China through aid programs. Boubacar's first opportunity was to study in the Soviet Union. However, a day before his departure, he decided to choose China instead.

Boubacar said he was impressed by how the Chinese medical team in Mali used acupuncture to treat children diagnosed with polio. He was amazed at the calm demeanor of the Chinese doctors as they skillfully and quickly inserted thin needles into patients' bodies.

After establishing diplomatic relations with Mali in 1960, China assisted in the construction of a series of factories in the textile, sugar, leather, and pharmaceutical industries, as well as hospitals in the country.

During his study in Beijing, Boubacar suffered from a severe cold due to a viral infection, and the doctor at the school hospital treated him with TCM. After having a taste of the charm of TCM, he decided to switch from Western medicine to TCM. "Since I am in China, I thought I should learn TCM," Boubacar said.

However, one of his best friends who accompanied him to Beijing tried to dissuade Boubacar. The friend lauded Western-style medicine and compared TCM to witchcraft. Boubacar ignored his words and went to Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong Province to study without hesitation.

In 1997, he received a doctoral degree from the Chengdu University of TCM, becoming the first foreign doctor to do so. That same year, he joined Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization, and started to offer free medical services to villagers in Southwest China's Yunnan Province. He has also voluntarily helped train more than 3,000 rural doctors in nearly three decades.

Medicine knows no borders, and TCM is a treasure from Chinese culture that needs to be known by people all over the world, Boubacar has always affirmed.

With the construction of the BRI, Boubacar feels that it is an opportunity to promote TCM internationally. He hopes that in the future he will unite people in Africa who have studied TCM and establish a comprehensive TCM diagnosis and treatment center that combines scientific research, teaching, and medical care, to train doctors in various parts of Africa.

"If we can accomplish this, it will not only be a business card for TCM but also a new business card for friendship between China and Africa," he said.

Conquer language, cultural barriers

TCM has been actively leading the development of international traditional medicine, integrating into the international medical system in recent years. The 72nd World Health Assembly approved the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), which, for the first time, included a chapter on traditional medicine originating from TCM. China has also promoted the establishment of the Committee of TCM Standardization Technology with the code of ISO/TC249, which has developed and issued about 90 international standards for TCM.

However, due to differences in language, culture, and other factors between China and other countries, barriers still exist in promoting TCM overseas.

Jia Yunfeng, an expert from the United Nations World Tourism Organization, pointed out at a forum in October 2023 that TCM is still difficult for many foreigners to understand.

Jia believed that the lack of talent in communication and a lack of understanding of the health needs of foreigners regarding TCM have become stumbling blocks for the internationalization of TCM.

Helping to move language and cultural barriers and allowing more foreigners to understand the use of TCM in their daily lives, this is where Tim Vukan, a German TCM practitioner who had studied TCM for about 20 years, believes his mission lies.

Unlike Boubacar who was born into a family of doctors, Vukan got interested in TCM while learning martial arts.

Vukan started learning Wing Chun in his hometown of Hamburg, Germany, when he was 18 years old. Wing Chun is a concept-based traditional Chinese Kung Fu style that requires practitioners to undergo intensive physical, mental, breathing, energy and force training in a relaxed manner. Grandmaster Ip Man is a representative for it.

During the learning process, the teacher not only taught Vukan Kung Fu, but also introduced him to many aspects of TCM, such as massage, meditation, and meridians, all of which are related to qi, or vital energy, which is considered to be an active principle present in any living thing that flows through their bodies.

At that time, Vukan did not know much about TCM, but he just knew that these exercises relieved his pains and made him feel comfortable after practicing Kung Fu.

In 2004, Vukan obtained a three-month tourist visa to travel and learn kung fu in China. He first went to Central China's Henan Province, the birthplace of martial arts, then went to Yangshuo county of Guilin, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to learn Tai Chi, a centuries-old Chinese martial art.

He also visited Hangzhou in East China's Zhejiang, Wuhan in Central China's Hubei, Nanjing and Suzhou in East China's Jiangsu, Kunming, Dali, and Xishuangbanna in Southwest China's Yunnan. At the end of his visa, Vukan returned to Germany, but he knew in his heart that he would definitely return to China. He was very curious about and longed for this land.

In August 2005, Vukan received an invitation from Zhejiang Chinese Medical University (ZCMU) to attend their short-term study program. The most difficult aspect for Vukan in learning TCM was the language. To overcome this difficulty, Vukan turned Chinese herbal medicine, prescriptions, and acupuncture points into songs and wrote them on cards.

He would bring a few cards along with him when taking the bus every day. He also participated in various training classes and found time to follow mentors and doctors in outpatient clinics, observing their patient consultations and copying their prescriptions.

So far, Vukan has been studying Chinese medicine for nearly 20 years. Chinese medicine is not only his hobby, but also his profession, and a life philosophy that has been deeply integrated into all aspects of his life.

Vukan and his family pay much attention to yang sheng - self-healthcare as he calls it. They have hot water in the morning, and consume various kinds of health-enhancing herbal teas according to the seasons and demand.

"Western medicine and Chinese medicine are both aimed at curing diseases, but TCM also emphasizes prevention of disease, so self-care is very important," Vukan told the Global Times. He noted that TCM is related to every aspect of people's lives and can help people live a better and healthier life.

Now Vukan teaches medical English in the ZCMU to help young Chinese students and TCM practitioners overcome the language barrier and better communicate with the world. He also created the Wushan TCM, a Chinese medical network, in 2008, to provide live and recorded courses to share professional, authentic and personal knowledge with foreigners.

He said that although he looks like a Westerner on the outside, he is Chinese on the inside. He considers it his mission to combine Eastern and Western medicine and popularize professional Chinese medicine knowledge to foreign people in simple and understandable language.

New card for friendship

With the growing influence of TCM worldwide, China is also actively expanding platforms for foreigners to learn and understand TCM, in the hope that more people, whether Chinese or foreigners, can become the envoys between TCM and the outside world and help promote the two sides' medical exchanges.

The TCM culture is an important part of traditional Chinese culture, said Peng Haiyan, an associate professor at the Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine. For universities, "promoting traditional Chinese culture to the international TCM students can improve their sense of identity in relation to TCM, so that they become not only the beneficiaries of the TCM therapy, but also important [envoys] that spread Chinese culture," Peng noted.

Iranian Motahareh Asgari and her husband Meghdad Abdi are two such envoys.

In 2002, Asgari became the first English language-taught PhD graduate in Traditional Chinese Medicine Formula at the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SHUTCM). Now she serves as an assistant research fellow at a medicine research center at the university. She loves traditional Chinese culture, and actively participates in traditional medicine exchanges between China and Iran, the Global Times learned from Cheng Lin, secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) branch of International Education College, SHUTCM.

Asgari's husband, Abdi, is also a big enthusiast of Chinese culture and has been practicing tai chi for years in his leisure time. He won a tai chi championship back in Iran, and got the first prize in men's Yang-style Tai Chi at a friendly competition among international university students in Shanghai, according to Cheng.

In total, there are more than 1,000 full-time international students from more than 60 countries, including pre-med students, undergraduates to masters, and doctoral candidates, studying TCM at the SHUTCM, Cheng told the Global Times.

With TCM's efficacy being recognized by more people out of China, in the coming years, TCM universities like SHUTCM will continue stabilizing and expanding the number of their international students.

The SHUTCM will also expend more efforts in promoting the setup of overseas cooperative education projects, and the construction of overseas Chinese medicine centers, according to Cheng.

Journey of two generations of US, China scholars in locating Chinese garden nurtures flower of friendship

One day in the 1950s, in the dimly lit hall of a museum in the US, young James Cahill saw the Zhi Garden Album for the first time.

The album from 17th-century China depicts a Chinese garden called Zhi with extraordinary realistic brushwork, which was uncommon in classical Chinese paintings. Almost every detail of the Zhi Garden was captured by the artist, revealing to Cahill an exquisite, yet unfamiliar Eastern-style beauty.

Cahill's eyes and heart were captured. This US student in Chinese art, who later became a famous art historian and one of the world's foremost scholars of Chinese painting, started his decades-long journey in search of the real Zhi Garden. For half a century, he visited China several times, and mentioned the Zhi Garden in his books and on many academic occasions, but never got concrete information about this mysterious garden.

Did this remote Chinese garden really exist, or was it just a Xanadu on paper? The question has long gnawed at Cahill's mind.

One summer day in 2010, on the other side of the globe, two Chinese students studying landscape architecture wrote an email to the then 84-year-old Cahill. This email, which shared the exciting news of the Zhi Garden's probable existence, was the very beginning of a beautiful story that saw Chinese and US scholars make joint efforts to discover and study the Zhi Garden, leading to their lasting friendship.

A dialogue across time and space

This 2010 email was sent by Liu Shanshan and Huang Xiao, who were then students of renowned Chinese professor of architecture Cao Xun.

In 2009, Cao came across the Zhi Garden Collection at the National Library of China, a book of poems and essays written by Wu Liang, a garden artist in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Through careful study, Cao became certain that Wu was the owner of the Zhi Garden, and the garden was most likely located in Wu's hometown in present-day Changzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province.

Under Cao's encouragement, Liu and Huang wrote an email to Cahill. They shared with Cahill that they might have found the owner and the possible location of the Zhi Garden, and asked him about the images of the Zhi Garden Album.

Cahill's fast response surprised Liu and Huang. "We emailed him at around 10 pm Beijing time, and the next morning we found that he had replied," recalled Liu, who is now an associate professor at the Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture.

They soon felt Cahill's excitement about and his strong passion for the Zhi Garden. In the following days, they received a couple of Cahill's emails, which were "too many to reply to in time." Moreover, after learning that Liu and Huang were also interested in the Zhi Garden and were willing to engage in related studies on it, Cahill soon mailed them a big package from the US, which included a complete set of duplicates of the Zhi Garden Album, as well as some 400 pages of literature and two CDs containing images of paintings of gardens that Cahill had collected throughout the years.

What made Liu and Huang more surprising was that Cahill suggested writing a book with them, sharing insights from their studies on Chinese gardens including the Zhi Garden from the Eastern and Western perspectives, as well as art history and garden architecture.

This idea sounded like a Nobel Prize winner inviting university students to work together on a thesis. "We could hardly believe it," Liu told the Global Times. "Professor Cahill was a leading figure in the study of Chinese art, but we were just postgraduate students at that time. There was a big gap between us."

Cahill's trust and encouragement gave them courage. In the following year, the two sides exchanged more than 100 emails to discuss the book's contents and forms. In 2012, the Chinese edition of their book Garden Paintings in Old China was published, becoming an influential work among international scholars of Chinese art.

Cahill described the book as the result of "a dialogue across time and space." It was the fruit of a yearlong online collaboration between two generations of Chinese and US scholars specialized in different fields, echoed Liu.

In July 2013, Liu and Huang handed the book to Cahill in their first offline meeting at the latter's home in the US. At that time, Cahill was already suffering from cancer.

During their one-month stay in the US, Liu and Huang visited many museums and art galleries with the help of recommendations from Cahill, and saw part of the original copy of the Zhi Garden Album at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. They celebrated Cahill's 87th birthday with him, which was tragically the last birthday of his life.

Cahill passed away in February 2014. "Working with Liu and Huang, learning that the Zhi Garden had indeed existed, and writing a book together, brought such contentment and happiness to the last years of his life," Cahill's daughter, Sarah Cahill, told the Global Times via email.
Moving story behind pictures

In April 2011, Liu and Huang found the specific location of the Zhi Garden based on historical materials and topographic maps. It had been turned into a commercial residential area in Changzhou, with a shopping mall downstairs.

They emailed the area's satellite imagery to Cahill, who immediately confirmed it as the original location of the Zhi Garden. Huang explained that Cahill had probably read the Zhi Garden Album hundreds of times, as he was very familiar with the garden's terrain and topography as depicted in the album. "So when he looked at the satellite imagery, it was as if he was looking at an old friend," said Huang, who is now an associate professor at the Beijing Forestry University.

The garden has been lost to centuries of change and urbanization. But fortunately, its beauties can be seen again today thanks to the unremitting efforts of many Chinese and foreign scholars. In 2013, a digital model of Zhiyuan was completed. In 2015, one year after Cahill had passed away, the Museum of Chinese Gardens and Landscape Architecture made an intricate model of the Zhi Garden, to serve as a representative example of the private gardens in the regions south of the Yangtze River during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Sarah visited the model in 2018 when attending a Zhi Garden-themed symposium in Beijing organized by Liu and Huang. "The model is miraculous; so detailed and lifelike, and truly expresses the beauty and perfect proportions of the original garden," praised Sarah.

Sarah voluntarily took over some follow-up work related to the Zhi Garden after Cahill's passing. Her father's love for Chinese gardens has deeply impressed and influenced her. "I have only been to one Chinese classical garden, but have long admired the beauty and ingenuity of Chinese gardens, from paintings and photographs," she told the Global Times. "The balance and harmony of humanity within nature makes Chinese gardens so perfect for reflection and inspiration."

The story does not end with the finding of the Zhi Garden's location and the departure of Cahill. In 2022, after years of studying the garden, Liu and Huang published their two books: The Zhi Garden Album: A Portrait of Peach Blossom Spring and Rediscovering a Ming Dynasty Peach Blossom Spring: A Study on the Zhi Garden. In September 2023, at the 3rd Conference of the European Association for Asian Art and Archaeology (EAAA) in Slovenia, Liu and Huang shared the story of the Zhi Garden with participating global scholars.

The beautiful set of pictures in the Zhi Garden Album is like a dream, Katherine Anne Paul, Curator of Asian Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art, said at the conference. "I love the beautiful garden in the pictures, and I love the moving story behind the pictures and the garden more," she said with excitement.
Envoys of culture exchanges

Cahill's life was deeply connected with China.

After then US president Richard Nixon visited China in 1972, the country sent its first art and archaeology delegation to China the following year. As a member of the delegation, Cahill participated in the first-ever important cultural exchange between China and the US since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. In 1977, Cahill led an ancient Chinese painting delegation to China.

In his lifetime, Cahill visited China for academic events and cultural exchanges many times, and established friendships with lots of Chinese scholars. He also helped many Chinese students.

"When Chinese publishers and publications paid Cahill for the manuscripts, he often asked me and Huang to give some of the money to the Chinese students who had [financial] difficulties," Liu said. "He was also pleased to write letters of recommendation for Chinese students and scholars who wished to go on academic visits to the US, helping them get some subsidies or grants."

Generous and warm-hearted Cahill was among the expanding pool of overseas scholars and ordinary people who are interested in Chinese culture and art, especially traditional Chinese garden art, and who are friendly to Chinese people.

Liu said in 2024, she and Huang will cooperate with the California-based Huntington Library to hold an exhibition under the theme of Chinese gardens and plants, at the Chinese Garden (also known as or the Garden of Flowing Fragrance) of the library. The garden usually holds public activities related to Chinese culture, said Liu.

As an art form that represents Chinese cultural characteristics, and a current display and communication space of Chinese culture, the Chinese-style garden plays an important role in the cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries, Liu said.

"Today, there are more than 100 Chinese-style gardens outside China, and they offer global people [a platform] to enjoy Chinese garden culture and artistic life," she told the Global Times. "The gardens are hailed as envoys of culture exchanges."

The year of 2024 marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US. A pianist and radio host herself, Sarah is glad to see more people-to-people cultural exchanges between the US and China. She said that the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she is a faculty member, has a close relationship with the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

Sarah also feels fortunate to develop friendships with her father's good friends in China, including Liu and Huang.

"It is so true that friendships and collegial relationships can strengthen and reinforce political relationships," she told the Global Times. "Music and art are of the best ways to bring us together!"

China's unique modernization process generates strong appeal worldwide, especially in Global South: GT survey

Editor's Note:

The world has witnessed a turbulent and rapidly evolving situation in 2023. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is yet to be resolved, and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has suddenly escalated, intensifying instability in the Middle East and affecting the global strategic geopolitical landscape. At the same time, global financial markets have also experienced significant volatility. The wave of bank failures in the US has spread to Europe, triggering a global banking panic. Unprecedented extreme weather events have had the effect of "deadly attacks" on many countries, posing significant risks and challenges to the global economy and food security. Despite these challenges, China has put forth the Global Development Initiative (GDI), the Global Security Initiative (GSI), and the Global Civilization Initiative (GCI), actively contributing Chinese solutions to the world and leaving a deep impression on people in many countries.

According to a survey conducted by the Global Times Institute on the opinions of participants across 20 countries in 16 languages, about 60 percent of respondents from foreign countries believe that China's global influence is rising. As of December 1, 2023, a total of approximately 17,000 valid questionnaires were collected. The Global Times invited several Chinese and foreign experts to analyze the survey results which cover a range of topics including China's role in the world, China-US relations, and risks facing the world, among others. Experts said that they believe that China's achievements in its unique modernization process have generated strong appeal and attraction worldwide, especially in Global South countries. This is the first installment of the survey.

Wide praise to Chinese modernization

With the continuous enhancement of China's economic strength and the improvement of its international status, more and more countries and regions are beginning to pay attention to China's policies and actions.

How China is perceived and understood by people from different countries and regions is also developing in a more objective and positive way. Many foreign media outlets have praised Chinese modernization, stating that it has broadened the global path of modernization and provided fresh options for developing countries. In terms of the economy, many international institutions have high expectations for China's economic growth, giving a vote of confidence to the Chinese economy. Experts from various countries also expect China to play a key role in the global economic recovery. In 2023, China has mediated and facilitated reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, promoting a new trend of peaceful development in the Middle East and the injection of stability and positive energy into a turbulent international situation.

From November 7 to December 1, 2023, the Global Times Institute conducted a survey using a commercially available online sample library to invite respondents to participate. The survey was conducted in 16 languages including Chinese, English, Spanish, German, Arabic, and French, and targeted residents aged 18 and above in 20 countries including China, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia, Italy, Germany, France, the UK, the US, Australia, South Africa, Egypt, Kenya, Brazil, and Argentina. A total of approximately 17,000 valid questionnaires were collected.

Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the country has developed into the second-largest economy in the word.

Among the 19 countries surveyed, excluding China, three-quarters of the respondents believe that China's development path is successful. Among them, over 30 percent believe it is "totally successful," while 45 percent consider it to be "fairly successful." Looking at individual countries, over 80 percent of respondents in Kenya, Indonesia, South Africa, and Egypt believe that China's development path is successful (including "totally successful" and "fairly successful"). In 10 countries including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, India, this proportion exceeds 70 percent. In four countries including Italy and Germany, it also exceeds 60 percent.

Wang Yiwei, a professor at the School of International Relations at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times that the majority of respondents from various countries acknowledging China's development path is based on objective facts. Over the last 40 years of reform and opening-up, hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty, and China's achievements are evident.

At the same time, due to more and more cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), people in many countries have also experienced the positive effects of the Chinese model and China's people-centered development path. The Western approach has not addressed the infrastructure and development gaps in many non-Western countries, as well as the fundamental issue of connectivity, nor has it helped these countries achieve industrialization. Instead, it blindly promotes American-style democracy. In comparison, China cooperates with other countries to solve their problems practically.

Regarding the question of how respondents perceive the "Chinese path to modernization," which is different from the Western model of modernization, average data from 19 countries (excluding China) shows that 85 percent of respondents have heard of the Chinese path to modernization and two-thirds gave positive evaluations. Over 30 percent agreed that this is "an innovative practice for the development of human society and an important reference for other countries" and over 30 percent believed that this "may be a new great endeavor, but needs more and long-term practice to testify."

Looking at individual countries, the proportion of respondents with a positive attitude toward China's development path in Indonesia, Kenya, and South Africa was around 80 percent; in Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, it exceeds 70 percent; and in seven countries such as, the US, the UK, Italy, and Russia, it exceeds 60 percent.

Wang Youming, director of the Institute of Developing Countries at the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing, told the Global Times that the achievements of Chinese modernization have had a strong impact worldwide, especially among Global South countries.

The Western model of modernization was once popular, and modernization was even equated with Westernization, creating a fixed mindset. However, China's successful modernization path has broken this pattern and generated strong appeal. China's modernization does not follow the path of Western expansion and colonial plunder, but rather the path of peaceful development as a strong nation. Besides, in just a few decades, China has successfully eradicated absolute poverty for hundreds of millions of people, which is extremely rare in the history of world economic development and human social development. Last but not the least, while the West has always struggled to balance the relationship between governance and the market during the modernization process, China's modernization combines a capable government with an effective market, which is also a breakthrough in economic theory, according to Wang Youming.

Strong recognition in China's global role

In a question related to China's global influence, average data from 19 countries (excluding China) showed that about 60 percent of foreign respondents believe that China's global influence is on the rise.

Wang Youming pointed out that the assessment of global influence takes into account comprehensive factors. Among them is the support of the economic foundation, as a country cannot have influence if it is poor and backward. As the world's second-largest economy, China has strong economic support, and its series of diplomatic initiatives and concepts have gained support from many countries. At the same time, China's Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative proposed in terms of development concepts and security perspectives have also won wide support.

Zhu Feng, director of the Institute of International Studies at Nanjing University, told the Global Times that global influence in international affairs mainly includes three aspects: Contribution to global economic development, presence in major international security and peace issues, and a role in the evolution and adjustment of the international order.

He noted that China's presence and participation in major global issues has continuously increased, and its influence has been growing. China has, for example, been advocating for peace and dialogue in the Ukraine crisis and has pushed for the adoption of resolutions by the UN Security Council on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In terms of global climate issues, China is also at the forefront of the green energy transformation.

Zhu stressed that despite the staggering global economic recovery, escalating geopolitical conflicts, and increasing pressure from the US and the West, China's peaceful development, contributions to the regional and global stability, as well as its provision of Chinese solutions and wisdom, are recognized by the international community.

In 12 particular countries, including the UK, France, and Russia, more than 60 percent of respondents believe that China's global influence is rising. More than 70 percent of respondents in Kenya and South Africa believe it is increasing. In five countries, including Germany and the US, more than half of the respondents believe that China's global influence is on the rise.

Koffi M Kouakou, an Africa Analyst and Senior Research Fellow at The Centre for Africa-China Studies at the University of Johannesburg, believes that both China's hard power and soft power are growing year-on-year, and the country's image is also improving. More and more Africans are able to see through the West's unfounded reports against China.

He believes that China has always been committed to promoting world peace and development, insisting on maintaining fairness and justice, and playing an important role on the international stage, with the resumption of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran being a powerful example.

Moreover, many projects built by China in African countries have taken off, helping Africa to effectively solve economic and social development problems. Whether in South Africa, Kenya, or other African countries, China's help is evident to all, Kouakou noted. Nowadays, more and more Africans across the continent believe that China can inject strong confidence into national and social development.

More dimensions of impression

When asked how do they hope their countries' relationship with China would change in the future, the average of 19 countries (excluding China) shows that nearly 60 percent of respondents hope for closer and friendlier relations with China, with more than 20 percent hoping for "very close and friendly" relations, and more than 30 percent hoping for "relatively close and friendly" relations.

In seven countries, including Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Russia, nearly 70 percent of respondents hope to develop better bilateral relations with China; in the UK, France, the US, and Australia, nearly half chose the same; nearly half of the respondents in Japan hope the relationship between the two countries remains "unchanged"; in South Korea, the proportions of those hoping to maintain the status quo and those hoping for friendlier relations are quite even at around 40 percent, while nearly half of the respondents in India hope for closer and friendlier relations between China and India.

Zhu noted that the attitude of respondents from Japan and South Korea reflects the deepening of a series of contentious topics between China and these two East Asian neighbors in economic, social, political, and diplomatic fields. But China, Japan, and South Korea are immovable neighbors in East Asia, and from both a historical standpoint and economic and social perspectives, we have strong connections.

Their attitude is a timely reminder, that is, how China's policies toward South Korea and Japan can be more effective, more pragmatic, and more heartfelt. This is also a key point for new strategic thinking and planning for China, Zhu noted.
Data shows that for 19 countries (excluding China), the highest rates of support among respondents are for Chinese citizens traveling to their countries, technological exchanges and cooperation, and youth exchanges between China and countries around the world, all exceeding 60 percent; followed by health and environment, commercial and trade interactions, and infrastructure construction, all receiving more than half of the support rate.

In Kenya, South Africa, Egypt, Argentina, Brazil, and Turkey, more than 70 percent of respondents support Chinese citizens' travel to their countries; in many European countries and Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Australia and others, the same enjoys a support rate that also exceeds 60 percent.

In terms of conducting scientific and technological exchanges and cooperation, except for Japan and South Korea, nearly or more than half of the respondents in the 17 other countries are in support, with Kenya and South Africa registering the highest rates, followed closely by Turkey, Egypt, and Indonesia; the US, Germany, the UK, Italy, and other European and American countries also have support rates close to or exceeding 50 percent.

AL-Ismail, a researcher at the Tahrir Studies Center in Cairo, told the Global Times that in the three African countries of Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt, more than 70 percent of the people support Chinese citizens traveling to their locales, promoting student and youth exchanges, and carrying out scientific and technological exchanges and cooperation, the highest proportion in each region. These are the heartfelt words of the African people. "Cultural exchanges play a vitally important role in consolidating public opinion foundation of the two countries' political and diplomatic relations, deepening feelings and friendships between the peoples of the two countries."

Kouakou indicates that as South Africa and China are both BRICS members, he believes the relationship between South Africa and China will become even closer. Today, the Renminbi has become the world's fourth most active currency. He expressed optimism at closer cooperation between Africa and China in the financial and economic trade fields, especially with the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area, hoping that China will provide more support to Africa in financial and the technological fields.

In Zhu's view, science and education are important pillars of social development toward stability and strength, which also reflects that the respondents' impressions of China are not one-sided, but more three-dimensional and comprehensive.

Wang Youming stated that as globalization enters a new stage, the content of interactions and exchanges, as well as the actors involved, are gradually becoming more youth-oriented, with high-end technologies such as the digital economy, green low-carbon, intelligent manufacturing, and aerospace among others becoming key topics. The survey data shows that the trend is consistent with the development trend of the times.

SCO Forum 'Year of Tourism 2023' kicks off in Urumqi

With the country's westward opening-up strategy, Xinjiang, as a bridgehead in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), will play a greater role, Xu Guixiang, spokesperson for the Xinjiang regional government, told the Global Times on Thursday on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Forum "Year of Tourism 2023," which runs from November 23 to 26 in Urumqi, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Co-hosted by the SCO and the Xinjiang regional government, the forum aims to establish a platform to introduce measures supporting the tourism industry by member states, exchange advanced experiences in tourism development, discuss industry hot topics, and explore methods to overcome challenges, SCO Secretariat Deputy Secretary General Janesh Kain said at a briefing.

According to Kain, about 300 heads of tourism administrations, representatives of international organizations, officials and business leaders, experts in the field of tourism and diplomats from SCO member states will participate in the forum to discuss joint initiatives to support the tourism industry. Four thematic sections are planned at the forum: Tourism Potential of the SCO Space, Tourism Potential of the Xinjiang region, Promoting Sustainable Tourism, and Developing Tourism to Reduce Poverty.

When explaining why the forum is being held in Xinjiang, Xu explained that Xinjiang is a beautiful and magnificent place with abundant natural resources, and its people are warm and hospitable.

Hosting the SCO Forum "Year of Tourism 2023" in Xinjiang holds special and significant importance. This is an important measure to implement the spirit of the Inaugural China-Central Asia Summit, the Third BRI Forum for International Cooperation, and the 23rd Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO, Xu noted.

He said that Xinjiang is an important part of the ancient Silk Road and a core area of the BRI. It is located at the hub of the Eurasian golden passage and serves as a gateway for China's opening to the west, he said.

Since the beginning of this year, officials of the Xinjiang regional Party committee have visited the five Central Asian countries, holding high-level meetings with officials of these countries, and achieving a series of practical results. This has sent a strong signal that Xinjiang's opening-up to the world is expanding. Officials from these countries have also visited Xinjiang to discuss friendly exchanges and practical cooperation, according to Xu.

This year has been a year of high-level visits, marking substantial progress in Xinjiang's opening to the world, Xu added.

Along with the intensive high-level exchanges, Xinjiang's opening-up to and cooperation with the outside world have ushered in new opportunities, including in the tourism industry.

According to Xu, from January to September this year, Xinjiang achieved regional GDP of 1.355 trillion yuan ($189.6 billion), a year-on-year increase of 6.1 percent. From January to October, Xinjiang received 243 million domestic and foreign tourists, a year-on-year increase of 101.38 percent, achieving total tourism revenue of 270.378 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 200.67 percent, a record high.

Xinjiang is located in Northwest China and has been relatively closed off in the past. With the implementation of China's westward opening-up strategy, Xinjiang has transformed from a relatively closed inland region into a frontier that is open to the west, Xu said.

Along with the country's implementation of the westward opening-up strategy, Xinjiang is embracing a rare opportunity, helped by special policy support for its development. For example, the State Council has approved the establishment of the Xinjiang Pilot Free Trade Zone, according to Xu.

"Xinjiang must firmly seize this rare opportunity and make significant contributions. We also believe that with the implementation of the westward opening-up strategy, Xinjiang, as a pioneer in the Belt and Road Initiative, will play a greater role," he said.

Italy: Ambassador visits Guangdong, deepens friendship

Italian Ambassador to China Massimo Ambrosetti recently visited South China's Guangdong Province and met with Chen Jianwen, a member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Guangdong Provincial Committee and director of the Publicity Department of the Guangdong Provincial Committee.

Ambassador Ambrosetti recalled Italy's long history of cooperative relations with Guangdong. This relationship is rooted in history and has matured over the centuries through the efforts of important historical figures such as Matteo Ricci, he said. 

During the meeting, Ambrosetti and Chen discussed deepening trade and cultural exchanges, and strengthening of people-to-people contacts between the two countries. Meanwhile, Ambassador Ambrosetti also met with Sun zhiyang, acting mayor of the Guangzhou, capital city of Guangdong . The ambassador recalled the excellent cooperation that has always existed between Italy and Guangzhou, which builds on the friendship that the capital of Guangdong Province has with the Italian cities of Bari, Genoa, Milan, Padua, and Turin.

The ambassador also visited Shenzhen and experienced the rapid development of the city compared to his first visit in 1992. Shenzhen Vice Mayor Wang Shourui introduced its economic and social development situation to the ambassador, while Ambrosetti pointed out that Italy has unrivaled advantages in the fields of industry and fashion, and that there is huge cooperation between Italy and Shenzhen in these fields. 

"Italy is the world's fashion capital and has had a positive impact on the design sector in Shenzhen, where the creativity of Italian designers is particularly appreciated. This year, the relation links between Shenzhen and Italy have also been gradually strengthened due to increased direct flights," he alleged. 

The ambassador also awarded the Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy to Sun Qijie, who is responsible for the Sea World Culture and Arts Center. This is a great honor in Italy, and was awarded to Sun to recognize his contribution to the dissemination of Italian culture in South China.

Have the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks reached a 'dead end?'

Editor's Note:

In the book Life and Death in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, journalist Ma Xiaolin recorded a question raised by a Palestinian man during a protest on May 4, 1999: "The May 4 has arrived, but where is our country? Tell me, where is Palestine?" According to the Oslo Accords signed between the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Israel, this date was meant to herald the end of a five-year transitional autonomy period and the achievement of Palestinian independence. However, this dream has remained elusive. The negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis have long been at a standstill, resulting in a deadlocked peace process. Why is it so difficult for both sides to make concessions? How have internal conflicts and competition hindered the peace talks?

Failure of Oslo Accords

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was established in 1964. The most powerful and influential faction within the PLO has been the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah). The PLO's founding aim was to liberate the entire Palestine amid a struggle with Israel, but due to changing regional and international circumstances, as well as consecutive defeats in the first four Middle East wars, the organization gradually abandoned this goal and, instead, sought a political solution to the Palestinian issue. In 1974, it was recognized as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people at the Arab League Summit.

In November 1988, the PLO issued the "Declaration of Independence," announcing the formal establishment of the State of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital. However, at the same time, they also recognized several resolutions, including the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan, indirectly acknowledging Israel's right to exist and accepting the two-state solution to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

However, in December 1987, an Israeli truck driver entered the Gaza Strip and caused the deaths of four Palestinians. This incident sparked the first mass Palestinian uprising and led to the formation of armed organizations such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.

Under the mediation of the international community, the PLO and the Israeli government signed the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, also known as the Oslo Accords, in 1993. They later signed several agreements including the Gaza-Jericho Agreement. The "Oslo model," therefore, gradually emerged as a way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The PLO recognized Israel's right to exist, and Israel recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people. Both sides embarked on the Oslo peace process, with the core "land for peace" principle.

The signing of the Oslo Accords sparked a wave of optimism in Israel and the Middle East, leading to a thawing of relations between Israel and some Arab countries, achieving some initial progress in the pursuit of peace. The Palestinian Authority was established in 1994 as an interim government, implementing phased limited autonomy in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The Israel Defense Forces also withdrew from most of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The then Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, and former Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for their efforts.

However, many Palestinians were dissatisfied with the Oslo Accords as they believed that the agreement did not grant them statehood, but rather provided for a phased autonomy for a vague Palestinian entity. The right-wing in Israel was also opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state. In order to obstruct the peace process, a Jewish extremist massacred 29 Palestinians in Hebron in 1994.

On November 4, 1995, the then Israeli prime minister and leader of the left-wing Labor Party, Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated by a fanatic Israeli Jew. Some analysts argue that Rabin was the only figure with enough influence to rally public support for the peace process. However, others pointed out that although the Israeli left-wing agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian state, their vision of a Palestinian nation was one far from being a fully sovereign state and was largely focused on civil governance.

The timetable for the final status negotiations between Palestine and Israel was already outlined in the Oslo Accords, but it was not until September 1999 that the negotiations officially began. Due to the complex nature of the issues involved, such as national, sovereignty, security, economic, and religious disputes, it was difficult for either party to make concessions.

Additionally, the negotiations faced obstacles from extremist forces and frequent changes in the political landscape. In July 2000, the Camp David Summit between Palestine and Israel ended in failure. Just two months later, amid heightened tensions in Israeli-Palestinian relations, Ariel Sharon the leader of Israel's right-wing Likud party, made a forceful visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, leading to a large-scale armed conflict and the Palestinian people launching a second uprising.

Since then, peace talks have repeatedly resumed and stalled, rendering the Oslo Peace Process virtually defunct. The international community has proposed solutions such as the "Arab Peace Initiative" and the "Roadmap for Peace in the Middle East," but none have successfully been implemented.

Refugees after building separation barrier

Jerusalem, a holy city in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, has had a tumultuous history. Due to its unique status, the United Nations (UN) once designated Jerusalem as a separate entity under a special international regime administered by the UN. In the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948, Jerusalem was divided, with East Jerusalem, including the Old City, coming under the control of Transjordan (now Jordan), and West Jerusalem under Israeli control. However, after the third Arab-Israeli war in 1967, East Jerusalem also came under Israeli control.

By then, Israel had gained a strategic advantage over the Arab camp, and the influence of the "Greater Israel" ideology was gradually expanding. There were also significant differences between Israelis and Palestinians regarding the status of Jerusalem. In 1980, Israel declared Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital, but this declaration was rejected by a United Nations Security Council resolution that same year. Currently, most countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv rather than Jerusalem. To ensure control of East Jerusalem, Israel implemented a policy of "de-Arabization" in the region, continuously eradicating Arab elements and restricting the residency rights of Arab residents. Additionally, Israel began promoting the establishment of Jewish settlements and the construction of a separation wall in the area to reinforce its Jewish character.

Land is a key point of contention between Palestine and Israel, and the expansion of Jewish settlements is a major method used by Israel to occupy land, divide Palestinian territory, control water resources, and expand defense depth. Jewish settlements are closed military zones. Palestinians are not allowed to enter without special permission. There is a modern road network connecting various Jewish settlements and cities in Israel. These roads generally bypass Palestinian villages, and are often restricted to Palestinians, thus dividing the Palestinian-controlled areas into isolated islands. The two largest of these areas are the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

While occupying land, Israel has also implemented a security barrier plan. The barrier, approximately 8 meters high and 700 kilometers long, consists of fences, ditches, barbed wire, electronic surveillance systems, and patrol roads. The separation wall was originally earmarked for construction along the 1967 armistice line (the "Green Line") to separate Palestinian areas from Israel. However, the actual construction of the separation wall extends into Palestinian territory, sectioning off 9.4 percent of the West Bank for the Israeli side, and nearly 25,000 Palestinians are forced to live in a closed area between the "Green Line" and the separation wall.

During the 1996 elections, due to concerns over "Palestinian extremists conducting terrorist attacks" and disappointment with the peace process advocated by the Labor Party government, the Israeli people voted for the Likud, which pursued a hardline policy. During Likud's tenure, the trend of advocating for the annexation of the West Bank and opposing Palestinian statehood increasingly became a political practice in Israel. Since his return to power in 2009, Benjamin Netanyahu has taken a tougher stance on the Palestinian issue. In February 2017, the Israeli parliament passed a controversial bill legalizing all unauthorized Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

At the same time, the Palestinian refugee issue presented another challenge in the final status negotiations between Israel and Palestine. After the first Arab-Israeli war, a large number of Palestinian Arabs were displaced and became refugees. The initial generation of Palestinian refugees dates back many years and, and many of the original refugees are now in their fifth generation. By 2016, the number of registered Palestinian refugees with the UN had reached 5.9 million. The Palestinian side believes that Israel should bear the primary responsibility for the refugee issue and advocates for the right of all refugees to return to Palestine. However, Israel denies this claim and, in order to maintain the Jewish character of the state, does not recognize the right of Palestinian refugees to return and instead advocates for their local resettlement. Israel also controls the borders of Palestine and even prohibits refugees from entering the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and does not issue them entry visas.

Numerous internal contradictions within Palestine

In addition to the major differences between Palestine and Israel on issues such as the status of Jerusalem, Jewish settlements, border delineation, and Palestinian refugees, there is also a fierce power struggle within the Palestinian territories between secularism represented by the Palestinian Authority and Islamic fundamentalism represented by Hamas. Some analysts believe that the Palestinian national movement is constrained by internal conflicts and is unable to effectively respond to Israel.

Due to the declining influence of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council elections and gained the power to form an autonomous government. Hamas' position on key issues such as the nature of the Palestinian state, its attitude toward Israel, and internal power distribution are in stark contrast to those of the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian Authority is committed to establishing a secular, democratic, and pluralistic modern nation-state, while Hamas aims to establish an Islamic state. The Palestinian Authority recognizes Israel and advocates for the establishment of an independent state through negotiations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. On the other hand, Hamas refuses to recognize the legitimacy of any Jewish state, opposes negotiations, and insists on using armed struggle to eliminate Israel and establish a state on historic Palestinian land from the Mediterranean Sea to the West Bank of the Jordan River.

The rise of Hamas has changed the political landscape of Palestine. In 2007, a large-scale armed conflict erupted between Hamas and Fatah in the Gaza Strip, resulting in Hamas seizing control of the territory. This division led to Palestine being split into two parts, with Fatah ruling the West Bank of the Jordan River and Hamas controlling the Gaza Strip. Hamas insists that "resistance and holy war" are the only way for Palestine to achieve liberation and independence. They have employed tactics such as tunnel digging to infiltrate Israel and launch attacks on civilians, as well as repeatedly firing rockets into Israeli territory. These acts of violence against civilians have become a serious obstacle to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and have led the US, the UK, and other countries' designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization.

In response to the extremist violent acts by Hamas and others, Israel has retaliated with military strikes, severely damaging the local socio-economic conditions and caused a severe humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, essentially turning it into "the largest open-air prison in the world." In addition to the discord between Fatah and Hamas, internal conflicts within the Palestinian Authority are also important factors affecting the unity of the Palestinian people. The stagnation of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, the deterioration of the economic and social living standards, and issues of corruption have undermined the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority and the authority of the older generation of leaders.

Analysts point out that the Second Intifada, which began in September 2000 as a major Palestinian uprising in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, indicates that the younger generation of leaders within the Palestinian Authority has started to challenge the older generation of leaders, intensifying power struggles over succession. This infighting weakens the secular nationalist camp, limits the ability of Palestinian leaders to control the situation and negotiate with Israel, and creates conditions for the rise of radical Islamic forces.

China eyes stricter oversight over IPOs, listed firms and brokers with 4 documents issued

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), the country's top securities regulator, issued on Friday four policy documents to enhance supervision and management of the capital market and prevent risks, vowing to promote the high-quality development of the stock market.

The documents, which will strengthen scrutiny over stock listings, public companies and brokerages, demonstrated China's determination to protect investors with "teeth and horns" and boost market confidence, as well as cultivate a good environment for the healthy and stable development of the capital market, analysts said.

The prompt move, which came just days after the two sessions concluded, showcased the country's institutional advantage of efficiency in policymaking and implementation, and is also a vital part of China's accelerated efforts to build itself into a financial powerhouse, they noted.

Stepped-up efforts

Among the four documents, three are guidelines aimed to boost supervision of initial public offerings (IPOs), listed companies, brokers and public offering funds. The last one aims to enhance self-construction of the CSRC system.

Noting these four documents, Li Chao, vice chairman of the CSRC, said on Friday that the goal is to make China's capital market "safe, regulated, transparent, open, dynamic and resilient."

In order to improve the quality of listed companies at source, the CSRC will tighten supervision on initial public offerings (IPOs), preventing companies from excessive financing, while accounting fraud and false statements will be severely punished, Li said, while briefing the four documents.

In addition, it will adopt necessary adjustments in the IPO market, taking into account supply and demand in the secondary market, and will also enhance onsite inspections of listing candidates, said the official.

Moreover, regulators will strengthen scrutiny of listed companies, focusing on helping listed enterprises improve investment value and enhance investor protection. The CSRC will ramp up its crackdown on accounting fraud and illegal reducing of holdings, urging listed companies to increase dividend payouts and encouraging them to buy back shares, Li said.

"The key point of these four documents is to strictly vet the IPO applications, and the quality of listed companies, as these two parts are fundamental to enhancing the management of the capital market," Dong Shaopeng, a senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Friday.

IPOs are like the first button of the stock market system, and should be fastened properly from the beginning, Dong noted, adding that the listing of a company is based on what it needs for development and what it can supply, and a company that does not have the ability to continue to innovate and develop, or to continue to supply dividends, should not be listed.

Yang Delong, chief economist at the Shenzhen-based First Seafront Fund Management Co, said that these rules are specific and targeted solutions to some of the problems that previously existed in listed companies, and are important for improving the investability of the A-share market and promoting the long-term healthy development of the market.

"These measures will effectively improve the quality of listed companies and protect the interests of small and medium-sized investors, thereby boosting market confidence," Yang told the Global Times on Friday.

According to the documents, the CSRC will also strengthen regulations on securities firms and public offering funds, in a bid to promote its functioning, professional service capacity and regulatory effectiveness. It will crack down on wrongdoings by shareholders that go against the interests of institutions and investors, warning against money worship, extravagance, hedonism and showing off of wealth.

Yang noted that the above-mentioned moves showed the regulator's determination to build an investor-centered capital market, and correcting bad conducts will promote good professional practices in the industry, further boosting the healthy development of the securities and funds sector.

The securities watchdog also released a guideline to improve its own capabilities. Strengthening self-construction is an important guarantee for the CSRC to fully carry out its main responsibility for supervision and promote the high-quality development of the capital market, Li said, citing the document.

Dong noted that China is the second largest economy in the world and needs a strong stock market that matches the size of the economy, and a fair system and strong regulations are the key.

Path to financial powerhouse

The CSRC's move is a new part of an array of market-friendly measures to pave the way for long-term, high-quality growth in China's capital market.

During the just-concluded two sessions this year, China stressed in its 2024 Government Work Report that the underlying stability of the capital market should be enhanced.

Wu Qing, head of the CSRC, on March 6 said in his first public appearance before media since taking his new post that enhancing institutional buildup and attracting long-term investment into the market will be among the measures that will be taken to accomplish the task outlined in the Government Work Report.

Wu reiterated the importance of prioritizing investors, combating financial fraud, and encouraging listed companies to engage in cash dividends and buybacks.

In order to promote the sound development of the capital market and protect investors' rights and interests, the CSRC has held symposiums to solicit opinions and suggestions on improving the basic system of the capital market, strengthening the protection of the rule of law, and has also paid visits to listed firms to help them address difficulties in achieving high-quality development.

Since Wu took office on February 7, the Chinese A-share market has recovered much of its losses from the recent cycle, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index up 0.54 percent to 3,054.64 points and the Shenzhen Component Index closing 0.6 percent higher at 9,612.75 points on Friday.

As "finance" was mentioned 21 times in the 2024 Government Work Report, experts noted that in the new year, China will accelerate efforts to build itself into a financial powerhouse, and the stability of the capital market will contribute to the high-quality development of its financial sector.

EU’s decision to maintain anti-dumping measures on iron goods from China is protectionism: expert

The EU’s recent decision to maintain the anti-dumping measures targeting certain iron goods from China is a form of protectionism, a Chinese expert said on Tuesday, while urging the EU to provide a transparent and fair market environment for all goods from China.

The EU recently issued a commission implementation regulation imposing a definitive anti-dumping duty on imports of certain iron articles originating in China following an expiry review. 

The measures have been effective as they helped to reduce the volume of Chinese imports in the EU market, but the volume of imports remained significant during the period, according to the EU.

Repeal of the measures would result in a significant increase of dumped imports from China at injurious price levels and would further aggravate the injury suffered by EU industry and threaten its viability, according to a document released by the EU. Therefore, the EU Commission concluded that maintaining the anti-dumping measures against China was in the interests of EU industry, the document said.

The EU's anti-dumping measures against Chinese iron and steel-related products have a very long time span, which reflects the international competitiveness of the Chinese products, Yang Chengyu, an associate research fellow at the Institute of European Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

While the EU has often claimed that the "cheap" prices of Chinese products harm the fair competition and interests of local EU companies, Yang said that this claim is not really valid under the multilateral trading mechanism of the World Trade Organization.

The EU has intensified its economic coercion targeting Chinese-related products, which shows its protectionist mindset, Yang said.

On December 10, 2016, the European Commission announced the launch of an anti-dumping investigation into cast iron products originating in or imported from China and India. On January 30, 2018, the European Commission issued an announcement regarding a final affirmative anti-dumping ruling on cast iron products originating in or imported from China, according to 

The EU has long adopted various trade restrictions on imported steel products, including the widely criticized global steel safeguard measures that have been implemented for several years, as well as more than 60 anti-dumping and countervailing measures against steel products from many countries and regions, He Yadong, a spokesperson for China's Ministry of Commerce told a regular press conference on October 12, 2023.

These measures disrupt the international trade order, push up downstream production costs, affect the interests of consumers, and are not conducive to the stability of the global industrial chain and supply chain, He said, and nor are they conducive to the long-term development of local industries and the healthy operation of the market.