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, bjnews.com 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.

China’s private Caixin services PMI reaches 52.2 in April, expanding for 16th consecutive month

The Caixin China General Services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) came in at 52.5 in April, expanding for the 16th consecutive month, according to data released by Caixin on Monday. Chinese observers said the figure reflected accelerated momentum in China's broad services activity.

The expansion was primarily reflected in the sustained growth of new orders, which rose at the fastest pace in nearly one year. Improvements in overseas markets and increased tourism activity led to the highest growth in new export orders in 10 months, marking the eighth consecutive month of expansion.

The index in April was slightly lower than the March reading of 52.7, but it remained in expansion territory, mirroring the sustained pickup in both the supply and demand sides in services. 

The new orders index and new export orders index saw moderate increases in April, hitting their highest levels since June and July 2023. 

"Improved demand drove a continuous increase in supply. Business activity and total new orders both grew for the 16th straight month, with the latter increasing at the fastest pace since May last year, indicating a solid resurgence in demand," Wang Zhe, a senior economist at Caixin Insight Group, said on Monday.

First-quarter economic conditions have exceeded market expectations, with consumption gradually picking up, signaling a positive start to the year. 

Analysts expect the economy to ride on the momentum of the good start to the year, with more driving force from brisk services activity and consumption in the remaining months.

"The sustained expansion of the services PMI reflects the stability of China's economic development, symbolizing the leading role of the services sector in the country's economic recovery," Li Chang'an, a professor at the Academy of China Open Economy Studies of the University of International Business and Economics, told the Global Times on Monday.

This is a significant outcome of policies aimed at boosting domestic demand and stimulating consumption, and the expansion of the tertiary sector is likely to continue, said Li. 

According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, during the five-day May Day holidays, 295 million domestic trips were made, a 7.6 percent year-on-year increase and a 28.2 percent gain compared with the 2019 figure. Total domestic tourist spending reached 166.89 trillion yuan ($23.13 billion), up 12.7 percent year-on-year and a 13.5 percent increase compared with 2019.

However, some economic pressure persists. According to data from Caixin, the services sector employment index remained in contraction territory for a third consecutive month.

"Despite optimistic macroeconomic data driven by policy efforts, the economic recovery will take time," Chen Fengying, an economist and former director of the Institute of World Economic Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times on Monday.

China secures 76% of global shipbuilding orders in April: data

Chinese companies clinched 76 percent of all global shipbuilding orders in April, becoming the No 1 shipbuilder in the world, according to latest industry data, highlighting China's increasingly prominent role in the global shipbuilding industry. 

Industry analysts note that the US' protectionism cannot stop Chinese shipbuilders' rise. 

According to Clarkson Research, a provider of shipping and trade data released on Tuesday, global shipbuilding orders in April reached 4.71 million compensated gross tons (CGT) for 121 vessels, marking a 24-percent year-on-year increase. Chinese firms secured 3.58 million CGT (76 percent, 91 vessels), ranking the first; while the runner-up South Korea obtained 670,000 CGT (14 percent, 13 vessels).

Additionally, as of the end of April, unfinished orders decreased by 100,000 CGT compared to the previous month, amounting to 129.91 million CGT. China and South Korea accounted for 64.86 million CGT (50 percent) and 39.10 million CGT (30 percent) of those orders, respectively.

"China's leading position in shipbuilding has been set up since the 14th Five-Year Plan starts. While previously excelling in mid-to-low-tier market segment, China is now vigorously advancing into high-end shipbuilding domain such as making LNG vessels. Efforts by Chinese shipbuilders have garnered considerable acclaim in the world," Tian Yun, a veteran economist told the Global Times on Wednesday.

In addition to the gains in manufacturing capacity, China has also made significant breakthroughs in ship maintenance, garnering growing demand both domestically and abroad. Overall, the market now appears to be a showdown between China and South Korea, according to Tian.

Shipbuilding, known as the one of crown jewels of manufacturing, which spans over 50 sectors and boasts an extensive supply chain. 

Since 2019, China's ship completions have risen steadily. In January-September 2023, China accounted for 46 percent of global completed tonnage, 63.5 percent of the new orders, ranking first worldwide.

Market watchers said that China will continue to enjoy the dominant position in the global shipbuilding market within a decade, due to its strong supply chain capabilities and increasingly eco-friendly tech advancements.

As China makes steady gains in shipbuilding, the US is worrying about losing another key industrial sector. Seeking to stymie Chinese shipbuilders, the US government launched a so-called Section 301 investigation on April 17, citing alleged "unfair economic practices" by China in maritime, logistics, and shipbuilding domains.

China's Ministry of Commerce rebuffed the US accusation, calling it baseless and a distortion of normal trade and investment activities. China isn't responsible for the US shipbuilding industry's lagging behind, resulting from the US' excessive protectionism. China's industrial growth is fueled by technological innovation and free market competition, not the non-market practices as alleged by the US, the ministry said.

Two Chinese mega-cities lift curbs on buying homes to shore up real estate market

Two Chinese mega-cities, Hangzhou in East China's Zhejiang Province and Xi'an in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, said on Thursday they would lift all home purchase restrictions to shore up the local real estate market and boost market confidence. It follows similar moves recently in other big cities like Chengdu, Shenzhen and Beijing.

The city housing authority in Hangzhou said in a notice that it will no longer review the qualifications of homebuyers, with the restrictions on residential property purchases having lasted for eight years, the Xinhua News Agency reported. This comes after Hangzhou announced last October it would narrow the scope of home purchase restrictions to four core districts, including Shangcheng district. It also announced the removal of all restrictions on home purchases starting from May 9.

Xi'an, the capital city of Shaanxi Province, has announced similar measures. The local authorities said they will remove all restrictions on residential property purchases and will no longer review the qualifications of homebuyers for both new and second-hand homes.

As of Thursday, a total of 35 Chinese cities have relaxed restrictions on home purchases, while 24 have completely scrapped all curbs on residential property purchases. In addition, more than 160 cities have adopted home-buying loosening policies, CCTV News reported.

These measures will encourage other cities to follow suit and will boost market confidence, Chinese analysts said.

More regions and cities in China will start a new wave of policy relaxation, along with promotions by developers, Yan Yuejin, research director at Shanghai-based E-house China R&D Institute, said on Thursday.

Chinese authorities have been ramping up measures to prop up the real estate sector recently. The most recent meeting of the Communist Party of China Central Committee Political Bureau on April 30 called for measures to support the property sector, saying that city-specific policies should be implemented, and that local governments, real estate enterprises and financial institutions must shoulder their share of responsibilities to ensure the delivery of housing projects and to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of homebuyers.

Combining the new changes in the relationship between supply and demand in the real estate market and people's aspirations for high-quality housing, it is imperative to conduct research on policies and measures to reduce housing inventory and improve the quality of new housing in a coordinated manner. New modes for the development of the real estate sector will be fostered to boost the sector's high-quality development, according to Xinhua.

Xi says China's high-quality development, opening-up to offer more opportunities for Hungary

China is now advancing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through Chinese modernization, and China's high-quality development and opening-up will provide more opportunities for Hungary, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday.

Xi made the remarks at a farewell event held here by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his wife.

Shenzhou-17 crew return to Earth after completing 1st extravehicular repair task for damages caused by space debris impact

The return capsule of the Shenzhou-17 manned spaceship, carrying taikonauts Tang Hongbo, Tang Shengjie and Jiang Xinlin, touched down at the Dongfeng landing site in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on Tuesday, following six months aboard the Tiangong space station.

The three astronauts are all in good health condition, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), the Xinhua News Agency reported. China announced that the Shenzhou-17 mission was a complete success.

The Shenzhou-17 mission was launched on October 25, 2023, taking over control of Tiangong from the outgoing Shenzhou-16 crew days later. The crew departed the station at 8:43 am on Tuesday and landed at Dongfeng landing site at 17:46 pm.

Recovery crews were on the scene moments after the return capsule touched down. Mission commander Tang Hongbo was the first out of the capsule. In front of the camera of China Central Television, Tang expressed that he is very proud for the country. “I departed in autumn and came back in spring. My mood is just the like current days in April, the most beautiful season of a year,” Tang said.

Tang, who had first flown to space in the Shenzhou-12 mission in 2021 and then in the Shenzhou-17 mission, has not only become the taikonaut with the longest space flight time to date, but also the one with the shortest interval between two flight missions.

“Such an experience accumulated valuable lessons for us in the routine implementation of flight crew rotation and training,” CMSA spokesperson Lin Xiqiang said.

Shenzhou-17 is the second mission after Tiangong space station entered the application phase.

Prior to Shenzhou-17’s journey, research team had discovered damage on the solar wing cables of the station’s Tianhe core module due to space debris impact, resulting in partial power loss.

To fix the damage, the Shenzhou-17 crew brought repair tools with them to the space station, and through two extravehicular activities, they managed to complete China’s first extravehicular repair task, eliminating the impact on the core module's solar wings, the Global Times learned from the CMSA.

“This fully demonstrated the role of humans in space and showed that human care of spacecraft can better address unexpected issues in orbit,” Lin said.

Over the past few decades, especially in recent years, the rapid increase of human space activities has led to a growing concern over the issue of space debris. Up recently, the Chinese space station has actively implemented space debris avoidance measures on multiple occasions.

To cope with the challenge, China has improved its precise forecasting capabilities for the space station, optimizing space collision warning and reducing false alarm rates by 30 percent. China has also been conducting high-resolution inspection of the external status of Tiangong to analyze the probability and mechanics of small debris impacts.

The Shenzhou-18 crew who has just arrived at their space home on Friday will carry out reinforcement measures with protective devices to apply on the weak points on the exterior of the space station.

Lin noted that a space station impact leak monitoring and positioning system has also been deployed, improving emergency pressure response plans and increasing the time available for fault handling by five times.

The CMSA has been publishing OEM orbit parameters on their website, so as to establish a flight safety communication mechanism with other spacefaring countries, timely exchange and sharing of relevant information, with the aim of jointly maintaining the safety of spacecraft in orbit.

Apart from impact repair tasks, the Shenzhou-17 crew has conducted a total of 84 space application experiments, producing over 60 types of more than 200 samples in various fields such as space life sciences and biotechnology, aerospace medicine, and space materials science.

These samples will be brought back to Earth along with the Shenzhou-17 spacecraft for in-depth analysis and research. The samples are expected to achieve a number of important research results in areas such as high-performance multi-element alloys, functional crystal material preparation, and inhibiting bone loss through the differentiation of stem cells.

China reiterates willingness to strengthen high-level exchanges with France

China stands ready to strengthen high-level exchanges with France, give play to the leading role of head-of-state diplomacy, and add new connotations to the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, said China's top diplomat Wang Yi on Saturday, amid rising high-level contacts between China and France in the past few months. 

Wang, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks in a telephone call with the French President's Diplomatic Counselor Emmanuel Bonne on Saturday, reiterating China's willingness to push bilateral cooperation with France in various fields to a new level, and give play to the important role of the two major countries in dealing with global challenges, the Xinhua News Agency reported. 

Noting that the current international situation is complex and volatile, with numerous challenges and hot spots emerging one after another, Wang said the international community expects China and France to form a common position and speak with the same voice on major issues bearing on world peace and stability, as well as the future and destiny of mankind.

It is hoped that the French side will push the EU to continue to pursue a positive and pragmatic policy toward China, Wang noted.

At a time when some European politicians are mistakenly advocating "decoupling" from China, the frequent interactions between China and France is a highlight and a stabilizer, Chinese experts noted. The connection between the two countries is also very important for advancing the resolution of international hot-button issues.

The year 2024 marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France. In the past few months, it is evident that China and France have increased their interactions, exchanges and communication in various fields, Zhao Junjie, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of European Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

Against a backdrop of rising uncertainties in China-Europe relations as some European politicians advocate "decoupling," the relationship between China and France is not only a highlight but also plays an important role in stabilizing China-Europe relations, he noted. 

France is willing to use the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries as an opportunity to intensify high-level exchanges, deepen mutual trust, strengthen practical cooperation and strive for mutual benefit and win-win results, Bonne told Wang in the phone call. 

The two sides should work together to cool down hot spot issues, cope with global challenges including climate change, make positive contributions to narrowing the North-South gap and rejecting bloc confrontation, and push for further development of France-China and Europe-China relations, he said.

Zhao noted that the China-France relationship has always been important for both countries throughout history, and it is crucial to make good use of the 60th anniversary celebrations as an opportunity to strengthen political interactions between the two countries. 

The French government has always advocated that Europe's strategic autonomy and independence in their relationship with China is important for them, analysts said. While some major Western countries opt to blindly follow the US in pressuring China, it is time that France can demonstrate its rational great power characteristics through its actions, they said.

In the past few months, the warming of China-France relations has not only been reflected in high-level official exchanges. In the military and commercial fields, news of cooperation between the two sides has been frequent.

On Thursday, the Chinese and French militaries signed a framework document on the establishment of a maritime and aerial cooperation and dialogue mechanism between the two militaries' theaters, to help further deepen mutual trust and cooperation between the two militaries and jointly safeguard regional security and stability.

In the meantime, France's Airbus is in talks with China over a potentially major aircraft order which could involve hundreds of jets, Reuters reported. 

During the Saturday call, the two sides also discussed business cooperation, having agreed to cooperate on the development of artificial intelligence, continue to strengthen coordination on tackling climate change, and further refine the successful practice of "from French farm to Chinese dinner table," so as to provide a good environment for enterprises of both sides to invest and do business in each other's countries, the Xinhua reported. 

Observers emphasized that maintaining a stable relationship between the two major powers is helpful in addressing international concerns in the current turbulent global situation, which was also part of the discussions on Saturday, when the two sides also coordinated on international and regional issues of common concern such as the Ukraine issue and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

After Brexit, the UK's influence in Europe has clearly declined, while Russia is currently being suppressed by the West, which makes China and France's communications more important in the international sphere, Zhao told the Global Times. 

"China and France always have a traditional and solid foundation for cooperation, and now it has a broader vision," he said. "The China-France relations can set an example for other European countries."

Chinese embassy condemns Sunak’s unwarranted accusation, malicious slander

China urges some British politicians to end their belligerent rhetoric, cease wanton accusations against China, stop stoking bloc confrontation, and instead, focus more on domestic economic and social issues, and act in a way that is truly in the interests of world peace and justice, the Chinese Embassy in the UK said on Wednesday night, in response to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's listing of China as an authoritarian state and criticizing the China-Russia relationship.

Chinese experts said Sunak's hype aims to win support for his administration to increase military spending. In order to achieve this, he hypes geopolitical conflicts, presenting so-called external challenges, said experts. 

Sunak said the UK's increase in military spending "is a turning point for European security and a landmark moment in the defense of the United Kingdom." Speaking at the base of the Warsaw Armoured Brigade in Poland, he addressed a regiment of the Queen's Dragoon Guards: "I want to talk to you about how we equip you to do your duty in an increasingly dangerous world," with Britain and NATO confronting an "axis of authoritarian states," said Sunak, naming Russia, Iran, North Korea, and China.

The UK politician was trying to look for excuses to ramp up the UK's military spending through his unwarranted accusation and malicious slander against China, said a spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the UK on Wednesday, noting that China firmly rejects his Cold War rhetoric that incites antagonism and confrontation.

"China is a peace-loving country, and has all along stood on the side of peace and justice," said the spokesperson in response to Sunak's accusation. "We have always promoted peace talks and sought peaceful settlement of international conflicts, we have contributed more than one-third of global economic growth for many years running, and we are a force for international cooperation and stability in the world. These are indisputable facts."

Cui Hongjian, a professor with the Academy of Regional and Global Governance at Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times on Thursday that Sunak's attack on China in his speech is mainly for "clout-chasing."

"Because of the numerous issues both domestically and internationally that the UK faces, Sunak is worried about the country's status as a major power," Cui said. "As a result, he is eager to make a statement on China-related issues, as only through this can he demonstrate his supposed political stance."

At the same time, the issue of military spending is also a reason for Sunak's hype. In order to enhance the UK's competitiveness, he must hype geopolitical conflicts, presenting so-called external challenges, including China and Russia as his targets, Cui noted. 

As pointed out by the Embassy spokesperson, in contrast to China, the current UK government seems to be stirring up troubles and heightening tensions around the world. 
On Ukraine, it has been providing offensive weapons to one side of the conflict, adding fuel to the fire. On the Gaza issue, it has repeatedly opposed resolutions calling for an immediate ceasefire at the United Nations Security Council. It shows no support for Palestine's application for full UN membership and continues to supply weapons to Israel. Now, the UK lacks morality and has no sense of responsibility when it comes to matters of international peace and justice, the embassy said in the statement. 

Regarding Sunak's comments, China has urged British politicians to end their belligerent rhetoric, cease wanton accusations against China, stop stoking bloc confrontation, and instead, focus more on domestic economic and social issues, and act in a way that is truly in the interests of world peace and justice.

Observers also noted that as relations between China and Europe improve and both sides strengthen high-level exchanges, British politicians who are hyping up anti-China rhetoric are more likely to harm the interests of the UK itself.

"At present, China-Europe relations are on a positive track," Cui noted. "If speculative hyping remarks are allowed to ferment and affect a wider range of China-EU relations, it could in turn serve to help anti-China Western politicians achieve their goals."