Third plenum draws up sweeping reform blueprint to advance Chinese modernization

The 20th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) adopted a resolution on further deepening reform comprehensively to advance Chinese modernization at its third plenary session, drawing up a sweeping blueprint that will guide China's reform and opening-up for years to come, according to a communique released on Thursday.

The communique was released following the completion of the third plenary session, which was held in Beijing from Monday to Thursday.

General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping delivered important addresses. At the session, the Central Committee heard and discussed a report on the work of the Political Bureau, presented by Xi on behalf of the Political Bureau, according to the communique.

Amid a complex international and domestic situation, many in China and around the world have been closely following the reform-themed session, which is often referred to as the "third plenum." 

Over the past four decades or so, the "third plenums" have played critical roles in China's economic miracle. 

This edition of the third plenum not only reaffirmed China's unwavering commitment to reform and opening-up, but also drew a clear path for China's continuous high-quality development, which helps boost confidence both at home and abroad, experts said.

For the world, China's deepening reform and expanding opening-up will create greater opportunities amid a global economic downturn and rising economic protectionism, and China's high-quality development will help create a new type of international relations based on the principles of equality and mutual respect, foreign experts said. 

Clear path

In line with decades of tradition, the third plenary session of the 20th CPC Central Committee also focused on mapping out reform and opening-up plans. Noting that the present and the near future constitute a critical period for China's endeavor to build a great country and move toward national rejuvenation on all fronts through Chinese modernization, the session further elevated the importance of reform for the country and stressed the advancing of Chinese modernization.

"Chinese modernization has been advanced continuously through reform and opening-up, and it will surely embrace broader horizons through further reform and opening-up," the communique said. "We must purposefully give more prominence to reform and further deepen reform comprehensively with a view to advancing Chinese modernization in order to better deal with the complex developments both at home and abroad."

The reform tasks laid out in the resolution covered a wide range of areas from the economy and whole-process people's democracy to ecological conservation and national security, according to the communique. 

Economic reform, in particular, was a main focus. The third plenum said that China will build a high-standard socialist market economy in all respects by 2035. In building a high-standard socialist market economy, the role of the market must be better leveraged, with a fairer and more dynamic market environment to be fostered and resource allocation to be made as efficient and productive as possible. 

Various reforms will also be carried out to promote high-quality development, including deepening supply-side structural reform. Institutions and mechanisms will also be improved to foster new quality productive forces in line with local conditions. Reform tasks were also laid out for macroeconomic governance and key areas such as finance and taxation.

Li Daokui, director of Tsinghua University's Academic Center for Chinese Economic Practice and Thinking, said that the third plenary session not only lays out a clear path for reform in the coming years, but also reaffirmed China's commitment to reform and opening-up. 

"The communique put emphasis on both reform and opening-up and reaffirmed upholding the basic national policy of opening-up, which I believe offers further reassurance for foreign businesses and investors," Li told the Global Times on Thursday.

Describing opening-up as a "defining feature of Chinese modernization," the communique said that the Party will "steadily expand institutional opening-up, deepen foreign trade structural reform, further reform the management systems for inward and outward investment, improve planning for regional opening-up, and refine the mechanisms for high-quality cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative."

Among the highlights of the reform tasks, Li pointed to the various reform measures to ensure and enhance the people's well-being, including improving the income distribution system and the employment-first policy, which will help address the direct concerns of the people. The reform plan for building a high-standard socialist market economy is also of great significance, as it will help create a fairer and more dynamic market environment, Li said.

Boosting confidence

The sweeping reform plan laid out by the third plenum will have profound significance for both China and the world, and will help boost confidence amid rising risks and challenges for the world as a whole, Chinese and foreign experts said. 

"The reform tasks are critical in shaping China's economic development and its position on the global stage," Lian Ping, director of the China Chief Economist Forum, told the Global Times on Thursday. "The success of these reforms will directly affect whether China's economy can continue to rise in the next 10 years and beyond." 

While China's economy has maintained stable growth in recent years despite a global downturn, it faces a growing set of risks and challenges, including rising economic protectionism and geopolitical tensions. The reform measures are key to tackling these challenges and ensuring China's continuous high-quality development, experts said. 

"The goal of reform is to address long-standing problems and improve systems to remove hurdles for continued economic growth," Lian said.

The communique also said that the overall objectives of further deepening reform comprehensively are to continue improving and developing the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and modernize China's system and capacity for governance.

This also reflects the effectiveness and importance of the CPC's leadership, according to Alexander Lomanov, deputy director for scientific work at the Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow).

"The CPC's ability to correctly assess the situation in the economy, proceed from the interests of the people, and defend these interests with all its strength is particularly important," Lomanov told the Global Times. "The top-level design in economic policy, which only the CPC leadership can provide, is very important."

The CPC's leadership is the source of confidence in China's economic development both in the short term and in the long run, experts said.

The third plenum not only mapped out reform tasks to ensure long-term high-quality development, but also conducted an analysis of the present situation and the tasks the Party faces, and urged firm commitment to accomplishing the goals for this year's economic and social development, according to the communique. 

Li said that the content suggests that more measures will be rolled out for the second half of 2024, especially in terms of expanding domestic demand, so as to ensure that the annual growth target will be met. 

"This is a very important message for the world," Li noted. 

Chinese modernization and China's continued high-quality development are also of great significance for the trend of multipolarization of the world, said Lomanov. 

"China's economic development creates favorable prerequisites for the creation of a new type of international relations based on the principles of equality and mutual respect, free from intimidation and pressure," Lomanov said.

The communique stressed that Chinese modernization is the modernization of peaceful development. "In foreign relations, China remains firmly committed to pursuing an independent foreign policy of peace and is dedicated to promoting a human community with a shared future," it noted.

China's shipbuilding surges as innovation, new quality productive forces fuel first-half boom

China's shipbuilding industry made significant gains in the first half of 2024, with revenue and profits rising as the country secured almost 75 percent of new global orders, demonstrating the growing momentum of Chinese manufacturing.

Rising global demand played a part, experts said, but China's technological advancements are the cornerstone of its rapid development. These achievements show the country's efforts to enhance its manufacturing capabilities and develop new quality productive forces.

Experts said that there is a potential for even further growth and increasing profitability. For this purpose, advancements in technology and achieving self-reliance in producing core components of high-value ships are essential.

Ship completions rose 18.4 percent year-on-year to 25.02 million deadweight tons (dwt), making up 55 percent of the global total in the first half, data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology showed.

The industry also saw an increase in order backlogs, which rose 38.6 percent to 171.55 million dwt.

China takes the lead globally in 14 out of 18 major ship types in terms of new orders, an indicator of its dominant position in the market.

The rapid progress in Chinese shipbuilding stems from multiple factors, including advances in shipbuilding technology, increased demand from the global shipping market, and the high quality and efficiency of Chinese-made vessels, Zheng Ping, chief analyst at industry news portal, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

China has made significant technological breakthroughs in various shipbuilding sectors, from liquefied natural gas carriers to cruise liners. Better shipbuilding technologies and experiences in construction, coupled with process optimization and digital tools, have shortened construction cycles and improved quality, boosting competitiveness and profits, Zheng noted.

Profit growth in China's shipbuilding industry has been robust, with total profits for the first five months of the year reaching 16 billion yuan ($2.2 billion), up 187.5 percent year-on-year, the MIIT said.

The expansion of the global shipping market has also resulted in a surge of orders for China, reflecting the industry's growing potential, Li Yanqing, secretary-general of the China Association of the National Shipbuilding Industry, told China Central Television.

The thriving shipbuilding sector mirrors the rapid progress in China's manufacturing sector, particularly high-tech manufacturing. According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, the added value of China's high-tech manufacturing rose 8.7 percent in the first half of the year, compared with overall manufacturing sector growth of 6.5 percent. 

Besides, China's high-tech manufacturing sector has made a significant progress in the first half of 2024, providing vital impetus for industrial growth, Wang Peng, an associate research fellow at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

China's innovation-driven development strategy, focusing on the research and development investment and advanced technologies, has continuously enhanced its independent innovation capabilities, driving product upgrades and technological progress, Wang said.

Among China's shipbuilding orders, high-tech and high-value vessels are on the rise. The country's shipyards have delivered new models of ships, including the world's largest 93,000 cubic meter ultra-large LNG carrier and a 99,000 cubic meter ultra-large ethane carrier.

China expands the number of ports for 144-hour visa-free free transit policy to 37

China expands the number of ports that adapt the 144-hour visa-free transit policy to 37, with the three new ports including Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport in Central China's Henan Province, Lijiang Sanyi International Airport in Southwest China's Yunnan Province, and the Mohan railway port in Yunnan, China's National Immigration Administration announced on Monday.

CPC navigates China to realizing economic blueprint through deepening reform and opening-up

As the Communist Party of China (CPC) is expected to convene a crucial reform-themed meeting next week, a look back on China's remarkable achievements in comprehensively deepening reform and opening-up over the past decade, which underpinned China's high-quality development against a complex global geo-economic situation, offers a critical window into what to expect from the upcoming meeting.

The third plenary session of the CPC Central Committee, often referred to as the third plenum, has carried enormous significance in China's economic and social development, as it has drawn up the reform agenda for years since the third plenum in 1978, which marked the beginning of China's reform and opening-up that helped lift China from a backward agrarian country to the world's second-largest economy. Since the third plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee, convened in 2013, ushered in an era of comprehensively deepening reform, China has witnessed greater social and economic development despite external and internal challenges and become a pioneer and builder of world peace and development, and a driving force in shaping a more just and effective global governance structure.

Today, as the world navigates its way through the mist of escalating geopolitical tensions, flagging economic growth, and global economic and financial fragmentation triggered by some Western powers' rising protectionism, domestic and global expectations for the upcoming third plenum are running high. Many in China and around the world are anticipating that the meeting will spur the world's second-largest economy toward higher level development through further deepening reform and opening-up and to contribute certainty and stability to a world in turbulence.

Since the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, China has witnessed comprehensive achievements in its reform and opening-up, paving ways for the country to realize its second centenary goal of building a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious by 2049, Chinese economists said.

Since Chinese leader Xi Jinping took the top office more than a decade ago, China has entered a "new era." As the world today is undergoing major changes unseen in a century, the country's economic strength has grown, and its international influence has continued to rise. Reform is the hallmark of this era.

As the CPC will convene on July 15 in Beijing the third plenary session of its 20th central committee, which will primarily examine issues related to further comprehensively deepening reform and advancing Chinese modernization, analysts noted that China's economic progress fostered by the Party's relentless efforts in forging ahead reform and opening-up has contributed to global prosperity and security.

China's economy has achieved a historic rise, with GDP growing to 126 trillion yuan ($18 trillion) in 2023 from 53.9 trillion yuan in 2012. For years, China has contributed about 30 percent of global GDP growth.

Market's decisive role

Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, the country has conducted in-depth reforms in both building the unified domestic market and forming new structure of all-round opening-up, having scored remarkable achievements in promoting the market economy, sci-tech innovations and higher-level opening-up, Yu Miaojie, president of Liaoning University, told the Global Times.

One of hallmarks in the past years is that the Chinese economy was able to maintain a relatively fast growth rate while conducting its structural reforms that give the economy new vitality for more sustainable and high-quality growth, experts noted.

Along with the country's policies to optimize resources allocation and foster the transition of traditional industries, emerging industries saw fast expansion and the services industry continued to grow in prominence.

A reform decision in 2013 said that it was China's aim for the market to play a "decisive" role in allocating resources.

Through the implementation of the supply-side structural reform, the country pushed the economy toward high-quality development and moving to construct a new development pattern. This was achieved while the country is being confronted with major challenges, such as downward economic pressure due to the lingering impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, rising protectionism and suppression from Western nations, and risks associated with the real estate sector and local government debt issues.

From 2012 to 2023, the proportion of the value-added output from high-tech manufacturing in overall value-added output of large industrial enterprises has grown from 9.4 percent to 15.7 percent, while that of the equipment manufacturing sector rose from 28 percent to 33.6 percent, according to a report by Xinhua.

The added value of the services sector accounted for 54.6 percent of the GDP in 2023, up from 45.5 percent in 2012, while the contribution of domestic demand to the nation's economic growth has increased from 105.8 percent in 2012 to 111.4 percent in 2023.

Cao Heping, an economist at Peking University, told the Global Times that under the Party's leadership, the Chinese economy was able to maintain growth rate at roughly twice the rates of other major developed economies, and the Chinese economy has entered a period of steady progress in upgrading its economic structure and the adoption of new technologies, gradually shifting its production model from the traditional assembly line manufacturing to connected and sharing manufacturing supported by advanced digital technologies.

Such a transition would be impossible without the steadfast leadership by the Party in promoting scientific and technological progress which allows the digital economy to penetrate all sectors of the economy, and all of these are happening amid a challenging external environment featured by a global slowdown and US-led decoupling push and tech war against China, Cao said.

Now China is a world leader in digital infrastructure with the digital economy now accounting for about 44 percent of China's GDP. "In some fields such as the installations in 5G wireless base stations, China far outperforms the US and other major economies," noted Cao.

In the next five years, the ratio of China's digital economy to the national GDP could further grow to over 50 percent, marking the successful transition into a growth model powered by digital technologies, Cao said.

Over the years, the country's leadership has pushed for high-quality development and innovation-driven growth through deepening reforms and unleashing the vitality of market participants.

The system of a negative list for market access was comprehensively implemented, allowing entry into areas not explicitly prohibited by the list, and financial reforms were promoted to facilitate financing for private enterprises.

A number of statistics has demonstrated the evident effects of these efforts.

In 2023, the country saw 3.33 trillion yuan poured into research and development (R&D), accounting for 2.64 percent of the GDP, up from 1.91 percent in 2012.

According to the Global Innovation Index published by the World Intellectual Property Organization, China's ranking has jumped from 34th in 2012 to 12th last year.

"With heavy investment in R&D, China's original innovation capacity and process R&D can almost compete with developed economies such as the US," Yu said, noting that China's industrial capacity is also outstanding, represented by the electric vehicle (EV) sector.

A number of Chinese private companies, such as EV maker BYD and battery maker CATL, have attained global recognition for the competitiveness of their products and more private companies are now leading China's push in emerging sectors.

"Our company directly benefits from the country's policies to encourage private capital into emerging and innovative sectors and into the new-type infrastructure," Zhang Jingru, an executive with private Chinese commercial space company LandSpace, told the Global Times. In July last year, the company launched the world's first liquid oxygen, methane carrier rocket into orbit.

High-level opening-up

Since the third plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, the CPC Central Committee has taken into account both the domestic and international imperatives, and advances a broader agenda of opening up across more areas and in greater depth in a bid to expand new growth room for the economy.

Xi has repeatedly stressed that China's door of opening-up will only open wider, and he has made "institutional opening-up" a priority.

"Establishing new systems for a higher-level open economy is a strategic measure to promote reform and development through opening up," Xi said when presiding over the second meeting of the Central Commission for Comprehensively Deepening Reform (CCCDR) in July 2023.

Over the past ten years, China is committed to establishing a new system for higher-level open economy, which in turn boosts in-depth reforms in the country while contributing China's wisdom and China's solution for an open global economy.

"China has said that it is committed to reform and opening-up and will never close its door to the world. Faced with questions from certain Western countries, China continues to deepen cooperation with the rest of the world in a larger scale, represented by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)," Wan Zhe, an economist and professor at the Belt and Road School of Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times.

Official data showed that China has signed free trade agreements with 29 countries and regions by January, and has signed more than 230 BRI cooperation agreements with over 150 countries and 30-plus international organizations. On the 10th year of the BRI, the cooperation platform has become a popular international public good and added new growth drivers to the global economy at a time when the world is facing tremendous changes, Wan said.

While the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership has been fully implemented, China is working toward joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA).

The country has lifted foreign ownership limits for securities companies, management companies of securities investment funds, futures companies, and life insurance companies.

As of January, 24 foreign Global Systemically Important Banks had established institutions in the Chinese mainland and nearly half of the world's top 40 insurance companies had entered the Chinese mainland market, according to data from the National Financial Regulatory Administration (NFRA).

The brilliant achievements made by the country under the leadership of the CPC have demonstrated the advantages of the socialist system. The CPC, adhering to a people-centered approach, has united the Chinese people and led them to make remarkable achievements, especially since the 18th CPC National Congress under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, analysts said.

They expressed full confidence in China's economy despite short-term and medium-term challenges including anti-globalization trend pushed by some Western countries, aging population and weak demand. "The upcoming third plenary session of the 20th CPC Central Committee is expected to focus on comprehensive, systemic and in-depth reforms, becoming another milestone in China's reform and opening-up," Yu said, noting that China's economic growth will grow more sustainably after in-depth reforms.

Yu projected that the country's GDP growth rate will likely reach 5.3-5.4 percent in 2024, higher than the pre-set target.

Looking ahead, Chinese policymakers should continue to push ahead market reforms, enhance rule of law and come up with detailed policies against the West's "small yard and high fence" policy, Wan said.

As China's economy enters a new stage of development, more reforms are needed to accelerate the development of new quality productive forces so as to boost total factor productivity and promote high-quality development, Wan said.

Betting on China's bright economic prospects, multinationals continue to expand their footprints in China and share the dividends of China's high-quality economic development as "investing in China means investing in the future."

Recently, PepsiCo began construction of a new food greenfield plant in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, with the total investment reaching 1.3 billion yuan ($178.9 million). Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis has started construction of its second production site in China with total investment at around 600 million yuan.

Chinese Embassy strongly opposes Germany’s decision on Huawei, ZTE 5G issues

On Thursday night, a spokesperson from the Chinese Embassy in Germany expressed strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to Germany's decision to phase out Huawei, ZTE telecom gear from its 5G network, warning the move will seriously undermine the mutual trust between the two sides and will also affect the future cooperation between China and the EU in the relevant fields.

Chinese experts on Friday said Germany's decision suggests that it is under greater pressure from the US and the EU, warning that the removal of Chinese components from its 5G network will have significant cost and hinder the country's communications development.

Reuters reported on Thursday that under the preliminary agreement driven by "security considerations," the German government and telecom carriers in the country have agreed in principle on steps to take out components made by Chinese companies from the nation's 5G wireless network during the next five years.

In response, the spokesperson said that Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese communications companies have long been operating in Germany in compliance with the law, making a positive contribution to the German digitalization process.

Huawei, ZTE 5G issue essentially is a behavior of individual countries to suppress their competitors beyond the bottom line in order to safeguard their own scientific and technological hegemony, the spokesperson said, noting that the so-called cybersecurity risk is nothing more than a pretext. In fact, no country has so far produced any conclusive evidence of the existence of security risks in the equipment of Chinese enterprises, the spokesperson added.

"The German side's announcement of the relevant decision at the time of the NATO Summit in Washington has further caused China to seriously question the independence of its decision-making," the spokesperson noted.

"Germany's move can be seen as politicizing economic cooperation, as the country is now facing more pressure from the US and the EU," Sun Yanhong, a senior research fellow at the Institute of European Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Friday.

Openness is mutual, and China's 5G construction has always been open to European companies such as Nokia and Ericsson, and has never seen them as a security threat. Germany's move is naked political discrimination, which seriously undermines the mutual trust between the two sides and will also affect the future cooperation between China and the EU in the relevant fields, said the spokesperson.

Sun noted that Germany's digital infrastructure is relatively backward, while Huawei and ZTE's equipment is leading in terms of technology, integrated solutions and cost-effective products.

"The cost of the transition is expected to be significant, which will limit the development of all areas of the country's digital economy including smart driving, smart healthcare and manufacturing automation factory," the expert warned.

The German and European sides cannot, on the one hand, demand fair competition and, on the other hand, discriminate against companies from other countries on the basis of unfounded so-called potential security risks, said the spokesperson.

Whether the relevant issues can be handled fairly and impartially is a litmus test of Germany's own business environment. By then, not only the normal economic and trade cooperation between the two countries will be affected, but also the confidence of foreign investors in Germany. China will take necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate interests of Chinese enterprises, the spokesperson noted.

Not only Germany, but also a number of other European countries are faced with the challenge of balancing the use of Huawei and ZTE equipment to drive their 5G network development and digital infrastructure development with responsiveness to US and EU pressures, Sun said.

China hopes Germany will respect facts and make reasonable decisions, and urges the European country to provide a fair market environment for enterprises from all countries, including Chinese companies, Lin Jian, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, told a press conference on Thursday.

China issues white paper on marine eco-environmental protection

China on Thursday issued a white paper on marine eco-environmental protection, presenting a full picture of China’s ideas, actions, and achievements in marine eco-environmental protection to the international community to facilitate understanding of China’s conservation efforts and advance international cooperation in this regard.

The white paper titled “Marine Eco-Environmental Protection in China” was issued by the State Council Information Office. It includes seven parts elaborating on China’s efforts to improve the marine eco-environment and promote harmonious coexistence between humans and oceans, coordinating marine eco-environmental protection, the systematic governance of the marine eco-environment, the country’s science-based conservation and restoration of marine ecosystem. 

The white paper also introduces how China has been strengthening supervision and administration of the marine eco-environment, advancing its green and low-carbon maritime development and carrying out all-round international cooperation on marine eco-environment protection.  

In October 2023, the State Council Information Office released a white paper on development of China’s distant-water fisheries. Analysts said that Thursday’s white paper, which is also about maritime development, offers an overall picture on how China has taken its responsibility to protect and improve the marine environment to conserve and use marine resources in a sustainable way. 

In the preface, the white paper stressed the importance of the marine eco-environment, noting that it is essential to the ecological balance of the planet, to the rational use of resources, to sustainable development of human civilization, and to the present and future development of the maritime community of shared future. Its protection is important for national eco-environmental security, sustainable maritime development, and the harmonious coexistence between humans and the ocean.

Under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization, in order to complete new tasks and meet new requirements for marine eco-environmental protection in this new era, China has launched a series of campaigns and has made historic transformations and progress of overarching importance, according to the white paper. 

It noted that while China continues to follow best practices in the past, it has been working hard on innovative new approaches to protecting the marine eco-environment, including respecting nature and prioritizing eco-environmental conservation, integrating conservation and management, enforcing supervision in accordance with laws, pursuing innovation-driven and tech-led development; pursuing green transformation and low-carbon development, and maintaining a global vision and promoting mutually beneficial cooperation. 

In the third part of expounding China’s systematic governance of the marine eco-environment, the white paper explains how China has continued to tighten regular supervision over industries such as marine engineering, dumping of wastes at sea, mariculture, and maritime transport, and active response to marine environmental emergencies. 

China is exercising strict control over the eco-environmental impact of marine engineering and dumping of wastes at sea. It is formulating technical standards to bring marine engineering pollutants into discharge permit administration. Also, the Chinese government enforces strict ocean dumping permits, and exercises off-site supervision through automatic vessel identification and online monitoring of ocean dumping to minimize the eco-environmental impact of waste dumping, according to the white paper. 

Moreover, China is enforcing systematic pollution prevention and control of mariculture, intensifying pollution prevention and control for ships in ports, and establishing the marine environment emergency response system. 

More concrete data and examples have been listed in the white paper to underscore China’s efforts in identifying environmental risks. For example, Liaoning, Hebei, and Shandong provinces and Tianjin Municipality in the Circum-Bohai Sea Region have conducted assessment of risks of environmental emergencies and worked out contingency response plans for more than 5,400 key enterprises involved in hazardous chemicals, heavy metals, industrial waste, and nuclear power. 

Marine issues are global issues, and protecting the marine eco-environment is a common concern for people all over the world. The white paper said China has conducted in-depth mutually beneficial cooperation with the international community through multiple channels and in various forms, contributing Chinese wisdom to global marine eco-environmental protection. 

While expanding cooperation in deep-sea and polar scientific expedition, China has been working with other countries to promote sustainable development of these regions. 

For example, China has built five Antarctic research stations, and two Arctic research stations in Norway and Iceland, which serve as important platforms for several thousand scientists to carry out polar observation, biological monitoring, and glacier research. 

Additionally, it has organized 13 scientific expeditions in the Arctic Ocean and 40 in the Antarctic, while signing memorandums of understanding or joint statements with the US, Russia, Australia, Iceland, and New Zealand and carrying out international cooperation with more than 10 countries, according to the white paper. 

In the conclusion part, the white paper noted that as China embarks on a new journey of rejuvenating the Chinese nation through Chinese modernization, the country’s maritime endeavors have entered an era of historic opportunities with protecting the marine eco-environment becoming an essential requirement and fundamental guarantee for building China into a strong maritime country and achieving harmony between humans and the sea. 

The white paper said the country will continue to build a marine eco-environment underpinned by harmony between humans and the sea. It also said that China is ready to work with other countries to build a cleaner and more beautiful world where oceans serve as a permanent home for humans to live and thrive.

GT investigates: Boeing incidents spotlight chronic woes and systemic problems in US manufacturing sector

As of March 18 this year, Boeing's stock price had fallen by 28 percent, while the international rating agency Fitch Ratings stated that Boeing's default risk is gradually approaching junk bond status.

The American news website Quartz recently sorted out "A timeline of Boeing's brutal 2024 (so far)." On January 5, a Boeing 737 Max jetliner's built-in emergency door fell off, starting Boeing's "chaotic year." Subsequently, from February 6 to March 15, there were at least five safety incidents, including a stuck rudder pedal, wheel detachment, rapid air descent, a tire explosion, and missing external panels. On March 9, the death of former Boeing employee John Barnett, who had previously exposed serious deficiencies in Boeing's oxygen system, also sparked media speculation.

Industry insiders and experts reached by the Global Times revealed that behind the frequent incidents is the American hegemony that has fallen apart like scattered nuts and bolts on the floor. The serious safety problems of the head of the US aerospace industry and the world's leading manufacturer of civil and military aircraft have also made the US media, scholars and the public think of the long-standing systemic problems in the country's manufacturing industry, and reflect on the entire trajectory of "deindustrialization" and "re-industrialization" in the US.
Competitive pressure

Chinese student Li Yu, who lives in St. Louis, Missouri, where Boeing has a factory and is one of the local pillar industries, told the Global Times that she often encounters Boeing employees attending advanced training classes at the university.

Although she has heard of the recent incidents, Li admitted that in the US, it is difficult to avoid Boeing planes for most people when traveling.

"When taking a plane, although I feel uneasy, I can only grit my teeth and go through with it," Li said.

A former airline employee from Georgia told the Global Times that the majority of the planes used by airlines in the US are Boeing planes, many of which are quite old. Airlines have detailed operating instructions for Boeing planes, and he guessed that the airlines involved in the recent incidents might not have maintained the Boeing planes as directed.

"It's as if I'm watching a troubled child," said Captain Dennis Tajer, the lead spokesman of the Allied Pilots Association, when describing flying a Boeing 737 Max, according to BBC.

Tajer stated that if the plane is not safe, he would never board it, and he can no longer assume that the planes he pilots are of good quality.

However, according to the American online media outlet Axios, US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has made continued attempts to assure the US public that flying is as safe as ever. In Buttigieg's view, the "real concerns" are Boeing's quality control, but he would still sit by the window on a Boeing plane.

According to the American Forbes magazine website, fortunately, there have been no fatalities due to Boeing plane malfunctions in recent weeks. However, five years ago, within nearly five months, two crashes involving Boeing 737 Max jets occurred in Indonesia and Ethiopia, killing 346 people.

In September 2021, PBS's Frontline channel and The New York Times co-produced a documentary titled "Boeing's Fatal Flaw," which, after an in-depth investigation, revealed the systemic causes behind the Boeing crash incidents - competitive pressure, inadequate pilot training, and regulatory absence.

According to the documentary, the 737 Max model was born under intense competitive pressure. In 2011, Airbus launched the new, more energy-efficient, and higher-efficiency model A320neo, and reached a preliminary agreement with a US airline, marking the airline's first order with Airbus in over a decade. Under this pressure, Boeing urgently initiated the design program for the 737 Max model.

Former employees involved in the work revealed that Boeing executives consistently pressured the staff to design the new model "faster, better, and cheaper," continually trying to reduce costs and minimize changes to the new plane to simplify pilot training differences, and to get the new model to market as quickly as possible.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which was supposed to regulate Boeing, authorized some of the safety inspection work to Boeing's own employees, leading to numerous cover-ups.

Increased risks

In this year's safety issues with Boeing, the far-reaching impact of the aforementioned systemic problems is still evident.

Analysts noted that Boeing's decline is the result of prioritizing profits over decades. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, who influenced Boeing's culture with his "lean management" philosophy, focused on cutting manufacturing processes and workforce to boost stock prices.

Boeing's excessive reliance on outsourcing, as reported by The Wall Street Journal in January, has also led to safety issues and increased risks, with critical components being manufactured globally.
Moreover, interviews with industry executives revealed that production pressure and loss of experienced workers caused further problems. Boeing, needing to meet growing aircraft demand, reduced quality checks while prioritizing production speed, Reuters reported.

The international logistics media site Polar Star reported that the US aviation industry has long been troubled by supply chain issues. Many parts are in short supply, with delivery times for some metal parts and windshields being 2 to 5 times longer than normal.

The shortage of aircraft mechanics and other aviation industry professionals also strains the supply chain. Media reports say that some machine shops have sophisticated equipment but lack the labor to operate it, making licensed aircraft mechanics "as rare as unicorns," citing local experts.

Similar dilemmas

Shen Yi, director of the Research Institution for Global Cyberspace Governance at Fudan University, told the Global Times that the frequent Boeing incidents actually manifest the falling of US hegemony.

Boeing, based on neoliberal business and management concepts, once enjoyed the dividends of the Cold War. Now the company has shifted its focus from quality control to cost control, Shen said.

He pointed out that additionally, the US government, driven by the so-called "identity politics" movements that emphasize diversity and equality, has made technical skills, capabilities, and experience secondary factors in personnel selection and appointment.

Therefore, after a period of sedimentation and accumulation, the lack of focus on the expertise has led to the increase in safety-related accidents this year, he noted.

Recently, the US magazine Foreign Affairs published an article pointing out the problem of the "privatization and the hollowing out of the US defense industry." In addition to the defense field, many other manufacturing sectors are reportedly facing similar troubles.

According to the Financial Times, the decline of the US shipbuilding industry is causing anxiety in the US. Industry insiders widely attribute this decline to several factors. First, in the 1980s, the Reagan administration pursued a free-market economy and thus eliminated most subsidies for the shipbuilding industry. US defense officials and unions have stated that due to the shrinking domestic manufacturing base and outsourcing, a significant portion of the materials and components needed to produce new ships are no longer available domestically. And this is also happening in other manufacturing sectors.

In addition, due to the "just-in-time" production methods adopted in recent decades, US contractors are reluctant to maintain redundant capacity. Furthermore, industry consolidation and the rise of shipbuilding industries in Japan, South Korea, and China have led to reduced investment in technology, factory equipment, and worker training in the US, according to the article.

Analysts pointed out that the real issue with US labor is its low productivity as workers have long demanded high wages and work-life balance. Moreover, the infrastructure conditions in the US are not promising.

Reports showed that much of the existing infrastructure in the US was built in the 1960s. Therefore, much of it is virtually defunct.

While the US Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) in 2021, the real process of upgrading the infrastructure is slow as there is no consensus on funding and building.
Misplaced obsession

According to the 2024 manufacturing industry outlook issued by Deloitte, the manufacturing sector in the US will continue to face challenges this year. However, several US media outlets and think tanks are optimistic about the country's manufacturing industry.

In October 2023, the Cato Institute, a US think tank, published an analysis titled "The Reality of American Deindustrialization," arguing that "American manufacturing has not disappeared but has undergone a transformation instead."

While US politicians have been actively advocating for the reviving of manufacturing, an article published by The Hill pointed out that "unfortunately, this obsession with manufacturing is misplaced."

"This manufacturing subsidy war will be expensive and will support inefficient sectors, raising costs for households and firms. For example, most estimates of semiconductor chip fabrication in the US are that it costs up to 50 percent more than fabrication elsewhere. American taxpayers will eventually bear the cost of subsidizing this kind of relative inefficiency," it said.

Several experts told the Global Times that reviving the manufacturing industry requires good infrastructure, research and development investment, industrial support, a continuous supply of adaptable labor, as well as a global network supporting the supply chain and trade value chain.

Even the US, once known as the "world's factory," would find it difficult to fill the gap and revive its manufacturing sector, Zhang Yugui, dean of School of Economics and Finance in Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times.

"If the US tries to revitalize its manufacturing industry, it must abandon the zero-sum game mentality and instead form an effective division of labor and cooperation with major manufacturing powers such as China, Europe, Japan, and emerging economies. It should not continue to artificially build 'small yard and high fence'. However, even if some advanced manufacturing industries are lured back to the US, it would be a short-sighted strategy that is unlikely to succeed, Zhang noted.

No actor has the right to rule the world unilaterally as a hegemon

Editor's Note:

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia. The bilateral relations have seen rapid development in past decades in many aspects, ranging from the economic sphere to the people-to-people exchange level. In a recent interview with Global Times (GT) reporters Xia Wenxin and Yang Sheng, Victoria Panova (Panova), Head of the BRICS Expert Council and Vice Rector of Russia's National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE University), shared her opinions on topics including China-Russia relations and the two countries' further cooperation under the BRICS framework.

GT: How do you see the overall development of current China-Russia relations? What kind of relations does Russia want to develop with China?

Panova: Since the establishment of our bilateral relations, the [two] countries have come a long way. The China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for the new era has proved to be trustworthy, reliable and mutually beneficial. The relationship between our countries is indeed time-tested and future-oriented. Further strengthening the relationship is key to fulfilling the fundamental interests of Russia and China as well as ensuring global stability.

Russia aims to further develop its dialogue with the People's Republic of China in all fields of cooperation, including providing mutual assistance and strengthening policy coordination in the international arena to ensure security, stability and sustainable development in Eurasia and globally.

The two countries continue close dialogue within the framework of such platforms as the United Nations and its Security Council, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS, G20, and ASEAN Regional Forum, among others. Russia and China continue to work on linking development plans for the Eurasian Economic Union and the Belt and Road Initiative.

The volume of bilateral trade increased for the third consecutive year and reached over $240 billion in 2023. In February 2024, Russian company Gazprom became the first largest supplier of pipeline gas to China, having outrun Turkmenistan - a long-standing leader in this respect. Chinese businesses are actively investing in Russia's Far East with their investment size amounting to approximately 1.2 trillion rubles ($13 billion) in the region. Those projects encompass many areas from logistics and agriculture to pharmacy and high technology.

As a Vice Rector of HSE University, I would also like to draw your attention to people-to-people exchange and cultural cooperation between our countries. In the 2023/2024 academic year, the Government of the Russian Federation provided 1,000 scholarships for Chinese students to study in Russian universities. In Russia, over 360 educational organizations from primary schools to universities teach Chinese as a foreign language. Around 860 educational organizations provide Russian as a foreign language courses all over China. HSE University has developed partnerships with over 30 leading scientific, analytical and educational institutions from China.

GT: How has Russia's diplomatic strategy changed in the two years since the conflict with Ukraine broke out?

Panova: In fact, the situation in Ukraine didn't lead to dramatic shifts in Russia's diplomacy. In fact, the situation that has been unfolding for the recent two years has shown "who is who" in terms of Russia's relations with the US, the European Union and other Western states. It has clearly illustrated that the elites who now lead the West do not treat Moscow as an equal and are not really interested in dialogue.

You must have noticed that Russia has been intensifying its relations with countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This should not come across as something completely new in Russia's foreign policy. We have been developing ties with those states for decades, the process started long before the escalation with Ukraine. The difference today is that we have indeed become more active in these regions that we collectively refer to as the world majority.

In 2023, the changes that have occurred in the new geopolitical reality were reflected in the edition of Russia's Foreign Policy Concept. It clearly mentions the fact that the world is moving toward a more just and multipolar system. This estimation of the global trends unites Russia with the countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Our states [Russia and China] share the idea that international relations should be based on mutual respect and the recognition of each other's interests. No one actor has the right to rule the world unilaterally as a hegemon. All countries have the right to equitable development. These beliefs and values remain at the core of Russia's diplomacy which is a foundation for building constructive partnerships with anyone who is open and interested.
GT: How has Russia used diplomatic means to resist US-Western isolation and suppression?

Panova: Russia has consistently employed diplomacy as the main tool to counter Western efforts to isolate and suppress its voice on the global stage. These diplomatic means are rooted in Russia's desire to maintain its sovereignty, protect its interests and remain a major player in international affairs. Thus, Russia, forging strategic partnerships with China, India, Iran, and others, is bolstering its diplomatic leverage and creating a counterbalance to Western initiatives.

With the support of its partners, Russia continues to diversify its foreign trade with Asian, Latin American and African countries. In the first quarter of 2024, the volume of Russian oil imported by China increased by 12.85 percent compared to the same period of 2023. In total, China imported 28.528 million tons of oil from Russia in January-March. In value terms, the supplies increased by 17.9 percent to $13.858 billion.

If we judge by the intensity of Russia's foreign trade and diplomatic contacts with the world majority over the years, then Western unfriendly policies obviously failed. While trying to isolate Russia from the world, the West has isolated itself from Russia. The big question is whether such an approach truly meets the interests of the EU, which has proposed and supported anti-Russian sanctions.

GT: The 2024 BRICS Leaders' Meeting will be held in Russia in October. What are your expectations for the future development of the BRICS mechanism? In what way do you think China and Russia will promote a multipolar world order, especially under the BRICS framework?

Panova: Russia proactively engages in multilateral formats, including BRICS, which grow in prominence on several fronts ranging from economics to geopolitics. Russia attributes great importance to BRICS. Over the years, the BRICS grouping has grown in scope and depth with BRICS countries exploring practical cooperation in a spirit of openness and solidarity, sharing common interests and values. Thus, BRICS serves as a platform for Russia to enhance its global standing, diversify its partnerships and pursue common objectives with other emerging powers.

The political influence of BRICS goes hand in hand with its economic power. BRICS unites developing countries all of which demonstrate steady economic growth. Since the expansion, BRICS' share in global GDP has reached over 30 percent which is considerably more than the share of G7. The values and principles that BRICS countries share are appreciated by many countries. Approximately 40 states have expressed an interest in joining, and there is every reason to suggest that another wave of expansion is on the way.

During its BRICS Chairship, Russia strives to facilitate a smooth integration of the new states into the grouping. This is the number one task of BRICS. Russia will make efforts to strengthen the intra-BRICS policy coordination at multilateral platforms, including the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the G20. Together with China and other BRICS countries, Russia will stand for a balanced and just energy transition process. Among other things, one of the priorities is promoting cooperation in the field of international information security to prevent the militarization of the Internet. BRICS will deepen dialogue on counter-terrorism, drug trafficking, and other fields.

Chinese economy maintains stable growth in April, with industry, exports indicators improving moderately

China's economy maintained stable growth in April, with key indexes on industry, exports, employment and price improving moderately from March, data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Friday, underscoring that the world's second-largest economy has been sustaining the solid recovery momentum since the beginning of the year despite facing multiple global and domestic headwinds.

Analysts predicted that China's GDP could grow at a rate between 5.3 and 5.5 percent in the second quarter, slightly up from the 5.3-percent growth recorded in the first quarter. And the economy is set to unleash more potential in the second half, as a package of stimulus measures, including the issuance of ultra-long-term special treasury bonds and supports on property industry, take effect and as global demand continued to bounce back.

China's industrial production jumped 6.7 percent year-on-year in April, compared with a 4.5-percent growth in March, NBS data showed. In April, retail sales gained 2.3 percent year-on-year, down from the March reading of 3.1 percent.

Fixed-asset investment rose 4.2 percent year-on-year in the first four months, slowing down from the 4.5 percent growth in the first three months.
"China's economy remained stable in April. Although some indicators recorded a moderate growth rate as affected by factors such as staggered holiday arrangement and a relatively high base in the same period last year, major indicators of industry, exports, employment and prices improved, with new driving forces maintaining rapid growth," NBS spokesperson Liu Aihua said at a press briefing of the State Council Information Office on Friday.

"One of the economic highlights from the April data is the robust growth in high-end manufacturing, which beats market expectation," Cao Heping, an economist at Peking University, told the Global Times on Friday.

He said that some of economic data in April has overall improved mildly compared with March reading, which bodes well for the growth in the second quarter. Cao projected that the GDP growth in the April-June period would speed up 0.1 percentage point to 0.2 percentage point from the first quarter.

"Considering China's prodigious economic scale, any growth between 4.5 and 5.5 percent should be sound and sustainable," Cao noted. Analysts exemplified that if China's GDP growth hit over 5 percent per year, the increase in China's economic volume could roughly equate to the economic output of Switzerland, which is now the world's 20th-largest economy.

China's robust economy in the first four months has proved that the US government's reckless suppression of Chinese industries, which it attempted to justify by labeling the "overcapacity" claim on Chinese exports, is futile and doomed to lose traction in global arena, analysts said.

Analysts expected that China's economic growth will contribute around 35 percent to the global economic development this year, further consolidating its role as both a stabilizer and key locomotive of the world economy.

China on Friday issued the first batch of 1 trillion yuan ($140 billion) in ultra-long-term special treasury bonds, as the authorities seek more funding to shore up government spending and strategically important projects' investment for high-quality economic development.

"The bond issuance needs to be completed as early as possible, considering that there is still some softness in the economy," Tian Yun, a veteran economist based in Beijing, told the Global Times.

He expected more measures to be unveiled to shore up the property sector, which remains a drag on the economy in the first quarter.

Cao noted that it would take two to three months for the effects of ultra-long-term treasury bonds issuance to bear fruits, and that in turn would elevate the whole-year GDP growth by 0.1-0.3 percent.

China's trade in goods in the first four months of 2024 recorded an increase of 5.7 percent year-on-year to reach 13.81 trillion yuan, data from China's General Administration of Customs showed last Thursday.

McDonald‘s apologies to Chinese consumers for selling expired food

McDonald’s on Monday apologized after media reports said that two of its outlets in China sold food made of expired ingredients and the outlet moved to  change the labels, sparking heated discussion online. 

The company said in a statement that it is actively cooperating with local market regulator in conducting an investigation and will address any violation of operational standards.

"We apologize for the impact from the restaurants involved. We are duty-bound to further strengthen the implementation and enforcement of the restaurants' code of practice," the company said in a statement.

Two McDonald’s restaurants in Zhengzhou, Central China’s Henan Province and Jinan, East China’s Shandong Province, were discovered to selling expired food, using expired ingredients, changing the food expiration labels and other issues, reported on Monday. 

The report soon sparked a heat discussion on Chinese social media. The hashtag “McDonald’s changing labels for expired food ingredient to extend the usage” reached 65.76 million views on Weibo, sparking more than 16,000 postings as of press time.

Many Chinese netizens have expressed their disappointment saying McDonald’s have let them down. 

Local market regulators in Zhengzhou and Jinan cities have launched investigations as health and food safety officials conduct onsite probes. 

McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski said during the company’s 2023 earnings call that he saw strong growth in the Chinese market and was pleased with McDonald's performance in the market. McDonald's plans to launch 1,000 new outlets in Chinese mainland this year.