Whether to follow the US’ tariff policies tests Europe’s strategic autonomy: Global Times editorial

Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

On May 21, while attending an event in Frankfurt, Germany, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen claimed that “the US and Europe need to respond to China’s industrial overcapacity in a strategic and united way.” She openly urged the EU to intervene urgently to “dampen” China’s growing green technology exports, including solar panels and wind turbines. Given Germany’s staunch opposition to raising tariffs on electric vehicles related to China, it’s evident that this speech was meticulously crafted in both its location and wording.

It is clear that Yellen’s aim is to provoke trade friction between the EU and China and to bind the EU tightly to the US’ strategic agenda. In recent days, Yellen has frequently called on Europe to address “China’s industrial overcapacity,” which indirectly demonstrates the US’ weakness and anxiety in suppressing China’s new energy industry. Therefore, the US is in such urgency to bring Europe on board, hoping that Europe will “charge into battle” for it. This is essentially political coercion of the EU on economic issues.

The EU currently faces choices: whether to follow the US in taking unified actions against China or to maintain the EU’s strategic autonomy. Should it block China’s EV exports at all cost, or protect the interests of its own enterprises and maintain the globalized framework? Additionally, Europe is a pioneer in green economic development, setting an example for the world. Whether it follows the US in building green trade barriers will test its commitment to its green development agenda.

At present, Europe’s overall direction still largely maintains strategic autonomy and political sobriety. According to the South China Morning Post, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen indicated that the EU would take “a different approach” from that of the US. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has noted half of the EV imports from China were produced by Western manufacturers. Additionally, BMW chief Oliver Zipse previously stated that the only purpose of raising import taxes is to protect an industry, but “we don’t think that our industry needs protection.”

And a more fundamental reason is that the US cannot succeed in suppressing China’s new energy industry. The US politicizes economic and trade issues through Section 301, which is not recognized by the international community, and often imposes tariff penalties on other countries. Its behavior not only seriously violates its tariff commitments within the WTO but is also typical trade protectionist behavior that disrupts the normal order of the international market. Many countries, including European countries, have been severely affected by it. Now, the US is once again wielding the tariff stick toward an emerging industry with unlimited potential, and the outcome is self-evident.

Furthermore, Europe should recognize that China’s industrial capacity and manufacturing abilities have gradually developed during its reform and opening-up, including the economic spillover effects of opening its market to foreign investment and joint ventures. Throughout this process, many European companies have also benefited from it. The rapid development of China’s new energy industry today aligns with the global trend of energy conservation and emission reduction and is a significant contribution to global green energy efforts. From the perspective of achieving global energy conservation and emission reduction, any suppression or restriction of the new energy industry is untimely and a counterproductive move against the current trend. We believe Europe has a full understanding of this.

In fact, aside from the perspective of some in the US, China’s development and opening-up bring opportunities, not risks, to Europe and the world. The spirit of free trade is the cornerstone of the EU and the source of its economic prosperity. Protectionism will not solve EU’s problems; it hinders development and sacrifices the future. Many wise minds within the EU are well aware of this fact. China and the EU are each other’s second-largest trading partners and are both significant forces in building an open world economy. Washington often mentions its “European friends.” It is hoped that they will respect the EU’s vital interests and also uphold the right of the EU and other countries to develop independently and autonomously.

China’s market for foreign business improves, offers further potential: British chamber head

The launch of the British Business in China: Position Paper 2024 in Beijing on May 22, 2024 Photo: Yin Yeping/GT

The launch of the British Business in China: Position Paper 2024 in Beijing on May 22, 2024 Photo: Yin Yeping/GT

China’s market for business has seen significant improvement and substantial changes over the past 15 years and is generally moving in the right direction, Julian Fisher, chair of the British Chamber of Commerce in China, said in an interview with the Global Times on Wednesday. Fisher also shared his insights on the potential for bilateral cooperation in the electric vehicle (EV) sector, where China holds competitive advantages.

His comments were made on Wednesday on the sidelines of the launch of the British Business in China: Position Paper 2024. The paper outlines the positive changes and opportunities perceived by British companies in China, while addressing remaining concerns and challenges. These firms anticipate more positive changes to take place so they can further tap into the potential of the world’s second-largest economy.

In his interview with the Global Times, Fisher said that the improvement in the business climate has been significant.

“When I came to China in 2005, it was an incredibly challenging place for international businesses to operate,” Fisher said, naming things like intellectual property rights and copyright concerns. 

“But that’s no longer the case,” he said, giving credit to an effective system for managing things like trademark infringement.

The British chamber has welcomed many changes in the Chinese market this year, the Global Times learned from the chamber on Wednesday.

For example, the chamber has been very pleased to see the impact of its advocacy in the education sector, with numerous crucial policy changes being implemented.

Following consistent advocacy in recent years on behalf of vocational education, last year the Chinese government announced that 115 vocational qualifications, mostly international, would be added to its whitelist, making them legally recognized, the chamber said in the position paper.

This change has brought crucial benefits to a wide array of British education providers and represents an important shift toward a more holistic policy approach to China’s educational landscape, according to the chamber.

Cybersecurity regulations became a top multi-sector regulatory issue faced by chamber business members in the British Business in China: Sentiment Survey 2023-24 which was released in December.

At the Wednesday release of the position paper, the chamber said that the Chinese government has sought to address this through increased regulatory flexibility and clarity, notably through exemptions, pilot zones and provisions to provide systematic categorization standards. The chamber welcomes these changes and encourages further action.

The chamber was pleased to see several breakthroughs that considerably improved the regulatory landscape for cross-border data transfers in the first half of 2024, according to the position paper released on Wednesday.

British companies are excited by Chinese plans to foster a more transparent and predictable policy environment, while anticipating “demonstratable changes.” 

As to the financial sector, a key area of bilateral cooperation, the chamber said that China’s vast market remains a steady factor attracting investment from financial services businesses. British businesses are confident in strong demand for international equities and fixed-income products from Chinese consumers.

The chamber anticipates more changes, including a further reduced negative list for foreign businesses, among others.

When it comes to the potential for strengthening bilateral cooperation between China and the UK, Fisher noted sectors such as EVs.

“We don’t have a massive EV industry in the UK and we do import a lot of cars from Japan, the US and Europe. So, I think that there are opportunities here for the UK to engage in China a little bit differently [from others],” Fisher said.

“But that will depend on how China engages with the UK and the rest of the world. It will also depend on how the UK government decides to align itself or not align itself on certain issues,” Fisher noted.

“Brexit was a big challenge for the UK both in terms of our trade and our reputation. But perhaps now one of the benefits we’re seeing is we can operate independently from the EU and from the US and from everyone else, so that we can chart our own path,” Fisher said, noting that in his personal opinion, the EV sector might be one area where both sides can work together.

Just like many other foreign firms, British businesses have been profiting from the booming Chinese market for many years, and the current potential in China, especially in emerging sectors like new energy and artificial intelligence, is substantial for them to tap into, Yang Chengyu, an associate research fellow at the Institute of European Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.  As China continues to open up its market, with the further implementation of a series of highly facilitative measures for foreign businesses, the country will draw more foreign investors from countries including the UK, Yang said.

China-Russia coordination more valuable amid noise

Illustration: Liu Xidan/GT

Illustration: Liu Xidan/GT

Just before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to China in his new term, the Carnegie Center published an article interpreting China’s deepening cooperation with Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries as China “stealing” Russia’s influence. This kind of propaganda masks the reality that more and more countries, such as Serbia and Hungary, are unwilling to align with the West. This is just a new version of sowing discord between China and Russia, using the falsehood of “China snatching Russia’s partners” to provoke tensions between China and Russia.

First of all, this rhetoric diminishes the status of CEE countries. 

We definitely do not agree with the worldview of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “If you’re not at the table in the international system, you’re going to be on the menu.” CEE countries are not delicious dishes for great powers to enjoy. Countries, regardless of size, have the right to choose their own partners and their own paths. CEE countries have never been willing to be mere pawns in the game of great powers, at least not Serbia or Hungary. After the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in 2022, faced with pressure from the Western camp, they did not choose to side with Ukraine and the West, nor did they cut off cooperation with Russia. In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban is seen as being against providing assistance to Ukraine and escalating the conflict within NATO and the EU. Despite the demonization of China in the US for the presidential election, Serbia, Hungary, and even France, still see that cooperation with China greatly serves their national interests and well-being. They are willing to receive China at a high level and open their markets to China’s industrial chain. 

Why don’t Serbia and Hungary align with Europe? Perhaps it is not just because Serbia and Hungary are unwilling to be manipulated by great powers. More importantly, Europe has not been able to provide them with what they expect. The murky political correctness atmosphere in Europe is not what they need. And the manufacturing industry supply chain they need is not something that Europe, which has long been immersed in the non-real economy, can offer. Serbia, Hungary and other countries are seeing the downward trend in Europe and choosing a distant partner over aligning with their neighbors. Isn’t this the tragedy of Europe?

Furthermore, no matter how the West tries to sow discord, it will not change the overall trend of a stable and healthy development of China-Russia relations. From the idea that China-Russia relations are a “marriage of convenience” to Tucker Carlson’s question of whether Russia is worried about China dominating the BRICS organization economically, these narratives are dismissed by President Putin as “bogeyman stories.” China and Russia are both well aware of the Western agenda to sow discord between them and are increasingly reluctant to respond.

The facts prove that China-Russia relations have not been affected by Western noise. During President Putin’s visit to China, the leaders of China and Russia jointly signed and issued a joint statement on deepening the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. By carrying out cooperation for the benefit of both countries and their peoples, this is the fundamental driving force of China-Russia relations. During President Putin’s visit to China, China and Russia signed multiple bilateral cooperation agreements, which will further promote the development of the bilateral relationship.

Isn’t it clear to Western elites that this kind of sowing discord is meaningless? They must know that they are powerless in the face of the stable relationship between China and Russia and can only resort to creating noise out of frustration. The more intense the Western attacks on China-Russia relations, the more they demonstrate the contemporary significance of this relationship. During the period of high-level cooperation between China and Russia, we witnessed that the Western forces led by NATO cannot replicate what they did in former Yugoslavia and Iraq, nor can they abuse mechanisms such as the UN Security Council to bully weaker countries. Therefore, calling China-Russia relations a key factor in maintaining the contemporary international order is reasonable, as the stability of this relationship ensures that the West adheres to the rules they themselves created.

We cannot stop the West from constantly creating new versions of provocative rhetoric, but the West’s provocations make us more aware of the value of maintaining China-Russia relations.

The author is a scholar from the Shanghai-based China National Institute for SCO International Exchange and Judicial Cooperation. [email protected]

Expanding population of wild Asian elephants in Yunnan are living symbols of China’s ecological commitment

Editor’s Note:

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Chinese president, and chairman of the Central Military Commission, stressed that the environment concerns the well-being of people in all countries. During his many inspections, Xi has always emphasized the importance of ecosystems, spanning from cities to rural areas and from enterprises to communities.

Over the past decade, under the guidance of President Xi Jinping’s Thought on Ecological Civilization, China has been advancing the green transition of its economy. Regions across the country are actively promoting the construction of an ecological civilization and advancing Chinese modernization featuring harmony between humanity and nature. These efforts go toward creating a “Beautiful China.”

The coming five years will be critical to the building of a “Beautiful China.” The Global Times is launching a series of stories to explore the progress of ecological civilization projects inspired by Xi’s words, delving into the positive environmental changes occurring now, and offering valuable insights and references for both national and global efforts. Through this prism, we can see how Xi’s thoughts on ecological civilization is being put into practice and further inspiring public action.

May 22 marks the International Day for Biological Diversity. In this installment, Global Times reporters visited the habitat of wild Asian elephants in Southwest China’s Yunnan Province. Accompanying elephant protectors, we delve into the natural habitat of Asian elephants, engaging in face-to-face exchanges with local villagers and rangers to gain a direct understanding of the profound significance of conserving biodiversity.

Elephants forage in the forest at the Asian Elephant Breeding and Rescue Center in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China's Yunnan Province, on July 20, 2021. Photos: VCG

Elephants forage in the forest at the Asian Elephant Breeding and Rescue Center in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China’s Yunnan Province, on July 20, 2021. Photos: VCG

Li Shengqian, an elephant ranger, walked through a large area of flattened cornfields. 

He occasionally squatted down and gazed into the distance, inspecting traces left by the wild Asian elephants.

The previous day, all the elephant rangers in Mengla county, Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture in Southwest China’s Yunnan Province, had gathered in the county town for a training exercise. As a result, over 40 elephants, seemingly aware of the humans’ absence, descended the mountain and enjoyed a grand feast. 

They slid down muddy slopes, marched through the cornfields, selected a patch of ripe crops, and promptly ate every sweet corn stalk, before rollicking in the salty nitrate pond at the foot of the mountain.

By the time Li and his colleagues received the villagers’ message and arrived, the elephants were already sound asleep deep in the forest. 

A local forestry official told the Global Times that a third-party insurance company would assess the crop damage caused by the elephants and compensate the villagers according to relevant regulations.

Such incidents have become commonplace in Xishuangbanna. Despite this, people do not complain; instead, the concept of protecting elephants has become deeply rooted in their hearts, and they actively engage in conservation efforts. 

An elephant ranger patrols a cornfield that was devoured by elephants the previous night in Mengla County, Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, Southwest China's Yunnan Province, on May 11, 2024. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Li Shengqian, an elephant ranger patrols a cornfield that was devoured by elephants the previous night in Mengla County, Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, Southwest China’s Yunnan Province, on May 11, 2024. Photo: Li Hao/GT

The scene in Mengla is a snapshot summing up China’s work to protect wild Asian elephants, reflecting the country’s biodiversity conservation efforts.

In a recent article on the People’s Daily, Huang Runqiu, Minister of Ecology and Environment, stated that in recent years, under the scientific guidance of Xi’s Thought on Ecological Civilization, China has elevated biodiversity conservation to a national priority, continuously strengthening biodiversity mainstreaming, improving the biodiversity governance system, and significantly increasing conservation efforts.

 “Biodiversity protection has achieved new results,” he said.

An unexpected journey

In March 2020, a group of Asian elephants left the Xishuangbanna Nature Reserve, migrating nearly 500 kilometers north. In April 2021, the elephant herd appeared in Yuanjiang county, drawing public attention.

Experts worried that the herd, already a long distance from suitable habitats, might face survival risks. To ensure the safety of both humans and elephants, Yunnan Province established a command center for real-time monitoring, early warning, and public support.

During this epic elephant expedition, hundreds of thousands of local residents were evacuated, but all displayed great patience and tolerance. Residents and businesses along the route showed remarkable restraint and understanding: when the elephants ate crops, villagers canceled festive celebrations to avoid disturbing the herd, while businesses turned off lights and suspended operations.

The elephants’ fascinating behavior during their northward journey attracted widespread attention. On one farm, the elephants demonstrated their intelligence by using their trunks to turn on a water tap and then queuing to drink. During the journey, when a baby elephant was tired, a drone captured the heartwarming moment of it nestling beside its mother to sleep.

 
The elephants’ journey captivated the entire country and even the world, turning them into social media stars. “The elephants seem very carefree: the sky is their roof, the earth their bed, and everywhere is home,” netizens commented.

A video on elephants is being played during the opening ceremony of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, known as COP15, in Kunming, Yunnan province, on Oct 11, 2021. PHOTO: Xinhua

A video on elephants is being played during the opening ceremony of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, known as COP15, in Kunming, Yunnan province, on Oct 11, 2021. PHOTO: Xinhua

After considerable efforts, the elephants began their southward return in June, successfully crossing the Yuanjiang River in August and returning to their native habitat.

To build public understanding and support, the Yunnan Forestry and Grassland Bureau actively promoted ecological concepts and wildlife protection knowledge, implemented comprehensive measures to prevent Asian elephant incidents, and ensured reasonable compensation. By August 8, 2021, the public liability insurance company had accepted 1,501 claims for losses caused by Asian elephants, with assessed damages totaling 5.125 million yuan ($740,000).

On October 12, 2021, the leaders’ summit of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) was held in Kunming, capital city of Yunnan Province. 

President Xi delivered a keynote speech via video link at the summit: “China has made remarkable progress in building an ecological civilization. The recent story of the northward travel and return of a group of elephants in Yunnan Province in southwestern China shows the vivid results of our endeavor to protect wild animals. China will continue to advance ecological progress, remain committed to implementing the new development philosophy emphasizing innovative, coordinated, green and open development for all, and build a beautiful China.”

According to following reports in May 2023, the star elephants in Yunnan have been in good health since returning south. 

The baby elephants gained weight, and the herd absorbed new members, splitting into two groups in different areas. 

Experts regarded this phenomenon as evidence of the herd’s healthy reproduction.

Walking with elephants


Due to extensive conservation efforts, China is one of the few places in the world where the number of elephants is increasing. 

The population of wild Asian elephants in China has grown from about 150 in the 1970s and 1980s to over 300 today. In the mid-1990s, Asian elephants were only found in two national nature reserves: Xishuangbanna and Nangunhe. By the end of 2020, their range had expanded to three prefectures, 11 counties, and 55 townships in Yunnan, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Conservation efforts are comprehensive, with continuous upgrades in monitoring methods and publicity. 

In Dadugang township, Jinghong city, Xishuangbanna, Peng Jinfu, a dedicated Asian elephant ranger, explained to locals the importance of elephant protection, methods, and safety precautions to villagers in the local dialect.

Peng, formerly a forest ranger, became an Asian elephant ranger due to the increasing number of elephants living in Dadugang. He and other rangers received training and learned how to communicate conservation methods to the community.

In Peng’s jurisdiction, there are four to five herds with more than 50 active elephants. He and his partner are often busy. 

Villagers look at Asian elephants while having a meal in Jiangcheng Hani and Yi Autonomous County of Pu'er, southwest China's Yunnan Province, July 19, 2023. Photo:Xinhua

Villagers look at Asian elephants while having a meal in Jiangcheng Hani and Yi Autonomous County of Pu’er, southwest China’s Yunnan Province, July 19, 2023. Photo:Xinhua

Luckily, Peng noted that while they used to rely mainly on manpower and visual observation to monitor elephants, they now integrate technology such as drones and infrared cameras, updating and sharing elephant activity information through WeChat groups, intelligent loudspeakers with infrared cameras, and the online warning app, enhancing patrol and early warning capabilities.

He told the Global Times that he and his teammates would continue to guard their posts, ensuring that elephants and villagers harmoniously coexist.

For ordinary villagers, the government and volunteers promote more “elephant-friendly” production and lifestyle methods to mitigate human-elephant conflicts. 

For example, beekeeping, traditional handicrafts, and tea planting are being promoted to replace activities like rubber planting and mushroom picking, which harm the rainforest ecosystem and increase the likelihood of displacement of elephants.

“These communities not only are on the frontlines of conservation efforts, but also bear great pressure and sacrifices. We hope to help them achieve better development and harmonious coexistence with elephants through the project,” Ma Chenyue, Program Manager from the International Fund for Animal Welfare in China, told the Global Times. 

For the past two decades, Ma’s colleagues have been helping villagers adapt to living with elephants and better protect them through various means. In December 2016, China announced it would end the domestic ivory trade within a year. The nationwide ban on commercial ivory trade took effect on January 1, 2018.

The Kunming commitment

In 2022, as the chair of the COP15, China led the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and a package of supporting policies, charting a new blueprint for global biodiversity governance for the next decade and beyond. The country announced an initial contribution of 1.5 billion yuan to establish the Kunming Biodiversity Fund, effectively boosting global biodiversity conservation confidence. 

Moreover, since 2019, China has become the largest contributor to the core budget of the Convention on Biological Diversity and its protocols and the largest developing country contributor to the Global Environment Facility.

China has also implemented major biodiversity conservation initiatives. The country was the first to propose and implement the ecological conservation redline system, with over 30 percent of its land territory designated as ecological conservation redlines, effectively protecting 90 percent of terrestrial ecosystem types and 74 percent of national key protected wild species.

Tibetan antelopes are seen at Sanjiangyuan in Yushu, Northwest China's Qinghai Province, on October 16, 2021.

Tibetan antelopes are seen at Sanjiangyuan in Yushu, Northwest China’s Qinghai Province, on October 16, 2021.

China also established the first group of five national parks, including Sanjiangyuan and the Giant Panda national parks, selected 49 national park candidates, and established the first national botanical garden.

Comprehensive land greening actions have been put in place, with 52 integrated protection and restoration projects for mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes, grasslands, and deserts, covering over 1 billion mu (66.67 million hectares). Forest coverage has increased to over 24 percent, making China the country with the largest and fastest-growing forest resources. Efforts to protect and restore typical marine ecosystems have also been advanced, with mangrove areas increasing to 438,000 mu, making China one of the few countries with a net increase in mangrove areas.

“It is difficult to achieve results alone, but easy to achieve with collective action. China will work hand in hand with the international community, advancing courageously to maintain a fair and reasonable global biodiversity conservation order, promote global biodiversity governance to a new level, and jointly build a beautiful Earth where humans and nature coexist harmoniously,” said Huang Runqiu, Minister of Ecology and Environment.

Tibetan antelopes are seen at Sanjiangyuan in Yushu, Northwest China's Qinghai Province, on October 16, 2021.

History, culture are foundations for understanding China’s politics: renowned Spanish expert

Xulio Rios Photo: Xie Wenting/Global Times

Xulio Rios  Photo: Xie Wenting/Global Times

Editor’s Note:

For a long time, the West has greatly misunderstood China, especially when it comes to China’s strategic intentions. They are accustomed to misrepresenting them, wrote Xulio Rios (Rios), a well-known Chinese affairs expert in Spain, in a recent article published on Spanish newspaper El Correo. He also wrote that China has successfully promoted its modernization process and created its own unique path, but China never intends to impose its model on third parties. 

Rios is the director of the Observatory of Chinese Politics, and has written several works on China and translated
The Art of War by Sun Tzu. He was once awarded by a subsidiary of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for his efforts to “introduce the real China.” 

Recently, during an interview with Global Times reporters Xie Wenting and Bai Yunyi (GT) in Beijing, he noted that the modernization trajectories of China and the West are different. China’s path to modernization has allowed it to retain true sovereignty, making decisions based on its own interests and setting the pace. “This is a completely different experience and produces different results,” he said. 

GT: You have translated the classic Chinese military work The Art of War by Sun Tzu, which has always been regarded as a gem in China’s ancient military cultural heritage. Concepts such as “valuing martial arts without resorting to violence,” and “working together in the same boat” still hold great significance and practical value today. What impact did the process of translating this book have on you? How do you view the influence of The Art of War and other ancient Chinese philosophical thoughts on today’s Chinese political and diplomatic style?


Rios: With the help and collaboration of professional colleagues, I translated a version of
The Art of War. This is a classic work that holds a very important position in Chinese culture. In the West, Sun Tzu is regarded as a great general and military theorist like Carl von Clausewitz, and the study of his military concepts and thoughts is part of every military academy curriculum.

However, I believe that
The Art of War is not just a military work; it embodies many ancient Chinese classic philosophical ideas. It covers various fields, from political strategy to trade, and can provide valuable insights into all of them. I have about 30 to 40 versions of
The Art of War at home, and I think that if one wants to understand China, it is necessary to delve into this book because it still influences China’s political and strategic decision-making today.

For example, there is a famous line in
The Art of War: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” “Avoiding war” is still a fundamental part of China’s foreign policy today, as China has always sought to avoid conflict and find consensus whenever possible. We can see that China always seeks to share rather than confront. In this sense, I believe that
The Art of War is the “source of inspiration” for many of China’s policies.

Furthermore, I believe that studying the history of China’s Warring States period (475BC-221BC) also helps us understand the logic behind some of China’s actions today, as we are also living in an era of power shifts and changes. In the West, historical classic works may appear in textbooks, but their influence on the current behavior of these countries is not as prominent. However, China is different; its leadership has always attached great importance to history and draws experience from it to solve problems. History and culture are the foundations for understanding China’s current politics.

GT: This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. You have been studying China for over 30 years and have visited many places in China. What new feelings do you have about China during your current visit? What new changes have you noticed in China? 

Rios: China has been constantly changing. I can feel the changes in China every moment, for example, in the field of technology, the development of speedy mobile internet is much faster than any Western country, leaving a deep impression on every foreign visitor. 

This is almost the opposite of the feeling I get when I visit cities in Western countries – time seems to stand still there, while in China, everything is changing and developing. I believe that China is a representative of modernization and progress, and is a place worth learning from for the outside world.

GT: You recently published an article in the Spanish newspaper El Correo titled “Chinese path to modernization.” How do you view the concept of the “Chinese path to modernization?” Some scholars believe that China has entered a new stage in the process of modernization, while others in the West claim that China’s reform and opening-up process has come to an end. What is your opinion on these viewpoints? What are the new characteristics of China’s current political and economic development?

Ríos: The reform and opening-up process in China has not ended, and it has just entered a new stage. I believe that China’s leadership has a clear action plan, including setting two goals for 2035 and 2049. This means that China needs a series of major transformations. 

In addition, China needs to face a tense and complex international situation, as its modernization process has raised doubts and concerns in some countries about China’s intentions. It is worth noting that the new stage is not disconnected from China’s previous history, and it is just that today’s China is facing new industrial, technological, and international realities, and therefore needs a series of new actions to respond to these realities and establish new “dynamics.”

For example, China is increasingly participating in international affairs in its own way, which is a result of China’s increased capabilities today and is one of the most significant features of Chinese politics. Whether it is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the BRICS+ mechanism, or international institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, they all clearly demonstrate China’s commitment to multilateralism and openness to multilateral affairs.

It is clear that China needs to play a more important role on the world stage, as this is a reflection of the changing global economic power in other areas, which is in line with both China’s interests and global interests. 

Furthermore, I have observed that China’s emphasis on ideology is increasing today, with a certain “revival” of Marxism and traditional Chinese culture. China is trying to “integrate” these ideas, rather than viewing different ideologies as contradictory and irreconcilable as in the West. I believe this is China’s way of strengthening ideological sovereignty and avoiding the destabilization of China’s political direction by Western liberal ideas. 

GT: How do you evaluate the current research by Western scholars on the Chinese path to modernization? 

Rios: I think the topic of the Chinese path to modernization has not been well-researched in the West. I strongly believe that China should have its own development path to achieve modernization. The introduction of this concept has tremendous historical significance. 

The modernization process in the West happened earlier than in China. Some Western scholars also believed that “history has ended” after the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, now China is advancing modernization through a different approach. Whether it is in terms of economic or social models, Chinese modernization is significantly different from the Western model. China is using its own way to find answers to some of the problems.

GT: In your opinion, what are the differences between Chinese modernization and Western modernization? 

Rios: This is a complex comparison. In my view, the trajectory of modernization in China and the West has significant differences. The modernization of developed Western countries is largely built on the conquest and exploitation of other countries, while China’s modernization is built on its own social and economic development.

There are also important differences in development models. China’s economic model combines both market and planning elements. However, in many Western countries, we do not see this kind of integration. I believe that this both market-oriented and government-planned economic model has achieved positive results and remains effective.

One of the most important characteristics of the Chinese path to modernization is that it preserves true sovereignty. China makes decisions based on its own interests, and sets its own pace and model, rather than accepting externally imposed decisions. This is a completely different experience and produces different results.

GT: You have said in previous interviews that China has achieved its goals through its own development path and approach, and that many of China’s experiences will undoubtedly be worth learning from. In which areas do you think China’s experiences are worth learning from for other countries? 

Rios: One of the most important lessons from the Chinese path to modernization for other countries is to think for themselves, make their own judgments on issues, and determine policies based on their overall interests rather than external evaluations or waiting for external guidance. I think this is a key point. 

Besides, I believe it is necessary for many countries to deeply analyze China’s policies in various aspects, which may be applicable to some countries and not to others. I have noticed that some developing countries have established economic zones like China, some of which have been successful and some not so successful, due to differences in education levels, labor force, and capabilities in the public and private sectors. 

However, undoubtedly, China’s model can serve as a reference for many countries, which can then adjust according to their own circumstances. 

Just as China has said, it cannot copy the models of other countries, nor does it want to impose its own model on other countries. Copying is not a good solution, but Chinese experiences such as strengthening the capacity of the public sector and re-examining collectivist values can serve as reference points for other countries.

GT: In your opinion, what has been the biggest misunderstanding about China by the West in recent years? 

Rios: I think the biggest misunderstanding about China by the West in recent years is about China’s strategic intentions. Some Westerners believe that China wants to revive its past glory, weaken the West, and put the West in a difficult situation. 

Therefore, there is a great deal of disagreement about China’s rise, with some believing that they must protect themselves from the threat of a powerful China. But for another part of the Western population, China represents an opportunity. They want to engage in dialogue and understand China’s policies. 

We cannot expect China, with highly developed productivity and technology, to exist in Asia in isolation. As its strength grows, it is logical for China’s position on the global stage to rise. However, it will take more time for (Western countries) to adapt to this process and adjust their responses accordingly. But one thing is very clear: We cannot push China aside to manage this world.

Tagore legacy fuels China-India cultural ties

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

It was barely my second month in China. Everything was new, and I was still trying to grasp the rhythms and nuances of this unfamiliar country. Over the weekend, a colleague invited me to a cafe to join a group of Chinese university freshmen for an informal English corner. The idea was simple yet intriguing: to have casual conversations that would help the students practice their spoken English while allowing expats like me to socialize and make new friends.

As we began with the usual round of introductions, one student, upon learning that I was originally from India, exclaimed with excitement, “It’s so cool to know you are from India. I love ‘tiger.’ Do you also love his work?” Fresh to the country and the culture, I was puzzled by his reference to “tiger.” It was only when he showed me a photo that I realized he was talking about Rabindranath Tagore, the great literary polymath. Due to the Chinese pinyin
Taige’er, he had pronounced Tagore as “tiger.”

After residing in China for over eight years now, a place that has truly become my second home, I’ve grown to understand the profound reverence for Tagore here and his enduring relevance to India-China cultural exchanges.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Tagore’s first visit to China, and his teachings and relationship with the country have only grown more significant. In today’s world, marked by deep divides, polarization and geopolitical challenges, Tagore’s legacy serves as a bridge, fostering understanding and mutual respect between India and China.

Already a Nobel laureate by the time he visited China in 1924, Tagore embarked on a journey that would lay the foundation for a rich cultural exchange between two ancient civilizations. His visit came at a time when China was undergoing significant political and social transformation. Amidst this backdrop, Tagore’s message of universal humanism, spiritual unity, and cultural synthesis resonated deeply with the Chinese intellectuals and artists of the era. 

During his lectures and interactions, Tagore emphasized the importance of cultural dialogue and mutual respect. He saw the rich cultural heritage of both India and China as pivotal in fostering global peace and understanding. Tagore’s poetry, philosophy, and ideals were embraced by Chinese scholars, and his works were translated into Chinese, further cementing his influence.

Fast forward to the present day, the dynamic between India and China is intricate, characterized by a mix of cooperation and contention. Geopolitical tensions, border disputes and economic rivalries frequently grab headlines. Nevertheless, cultural diplomacy stands out as a potent means to bridge divides and nurture mutual understanding among nations, with Tagore’s legacy serving as a testament to the lasting influence of cultural ties. 

In contemporary times, Tagore’s philosophy of mutual respect and cultural exchange is more relevant than ever. His belief in the intrinsic value of different cultures and his efforts to promote dialogue can help navigate the intricacies of modern India-China relations. By revisiting Tagore’s contributions, both nations can find common ground in their shared cultural heritage.

Tagore’s influence in China extends beyond literature, penetrating the realm of philosophy and education. Xu Zhimo, a renowned poet, translated many of Tagore’s works and actively promoted his ideas. This intellectual exchange enriched Chinese literature and opened new avenues for philosophical discourse.

Besides this, Tagore’s holistic approach to education, which integrates arts, humanities and sciences, resonates with contemporary educational reforms aiming to produce well-rounded global citizens. In today’s globalized world, where divisive politics and cultural misunderstandings often overshadow dialogue, Tagore’s vision offers a beacon of hope. His advocacy for cultural understanding and cooperation is a reminder of the potential for harmony between India and China.

This 100th anniversary of Tagore’s visit to China can be deemed a poignant reaffirmation of the enduring principles he championed. It offers an opportunity to revisit his teachings and apply them to contemporary issues. Academic exchanges, cultural festivals, and joint literary initiatives inspired by Tagore’s legacy can serve as platforms for deeper engagement between the two nations.

Engaging the youth in both countries is crucial for sustaining Tagore’s legacy. Educational programs that promote the study of Tagore’s works can help cultivate a new generation of thinkers who appreciate the shared cultural heritage of India and China. Universities and cultural institutions can also play a crucial role in keeping the spirit of Tagore’s vision alive, thus, laying the groundwork for future collaborations.

Tagore’s legacy is a powerful reminder of the potential for cultural diplomacy to bridge divides and foster mutual respect. His teachings continue to inspire and offer valuable lessons for navigating the complexities of modern bilateral relations.

In an era rife with geopolitical tensions, Tagore’s vision of universal humanism and cultural synthesis shines as a guiding beacon. By embracing his legacy, India and China can certainly strengthen their ties and pave the way for a more harmonious tomorrow, thereby building a community with a shared future for all of humanity.

Looking back on Tagore’s journey, let us also look ahead, drawing inspiration from his ideals, toward a world where cultural exchange and mutual respect underpin international relations.

The author is a media professional based in Beijing. [email protected]

MNCs seek fresh growth points in China

A view of the booth of Schneider Electric SE during an expo in Shanghai. PHOTO/CHINA DAILY

In China, Covestro AG, a German chemicals manufacturer, is setting up a new plant in Zhuhai, Guangdong province; Schneider Electric SE, a French industrial conglomerate, will build an industrial park in Xiamen, Fujian province; and Bridgestone Corp, a Japanese tire company, has announced it will invest 562 million yuan ($77.6 million) in China over the next three years.

These seemingly unconnected corporate developments have one thing in common: they represent a trend of multinational corporations seeking fresh growth points in China’s green transformation and rapid development of its high-end manufacturing sector.

Against the backdrop of global economic uncertainties, the idea of ensuring secure and sustainable investments has gained traction worldwide. MNCs, particularly those dealing in high-end materials, industrial parts and components, and green-related industries, are prioritizing long-term returns.

To this end, they are establishing more innovation centers and advanced factories in China to sustain competitiveness while navigating future challenges.

For example, Marelli Holdings Co Ltd, an Italian-Japanese mobility product supplier to the automotive industry, will expand its engineering team in China from 800 to 1,000 soon to meet surging demand for innovation.

David Slump, the group’s president and CEO, said Marelli will ride China’s electric vehicle wave by supplying products ranging from automotive lighting and electronics to software solutions to its partners in the country.

Dismissing some Western nations’ “China overcapacity” narrative, especially in the areas of new energy industries, Slump said that China, recognized globally as a major EV market and home to some of the world’s leading EV manufacturers, will create substantial opportunities for global companies aiming to sustain robust growth in this burgeoning sector.

Eager to cut carbon emissions, many countries are building infrastructure like charging facilities, battery swap stations and capable grid systems to facilitate their consumers driving EVs on the road, he said.

With around 50,000 employees and 170 plants and research and development centers across the world, Marelli also ships products manufactured at its plants in China to other parts of the world, including Mexico, Thailand and Germany.

Markus Steilemann, CEO of Covestro, said he opposes the “China has overcapacity” narrative and is not a fan of excessive regulations, especially in markets where free trade is essential.

Excessively prohibitive measures and restrictions may not effectively boost productivity, and criticizing perceived overcapacity is not the right way to global cooperation, said Steilemann, adding that about 75 percent of Covestro’s planned investment in the Asia-Pacific region will be in China over the next three years.

China’s insurance market to double in 10 years, Swiss Re CEO says

The size of China’s insurance industry is expected to double in the next 10 years amid strong economic growth, making the country an even more important market for the group, said Christian Mumenthaler, group CEO of Swiss Re.

China’s economy continued its steady recovery in April, official data released on Friday showed.

The country is expected to maintain an annual economic growth rate of about 5 percent, continuing to rank among the world’s fastest-growing economies, Mumenthaler said in an exclusive interview with China Daily.

China’s insurance market is growing faster than its economy, Mumenthaler added.

“The size of premiums could double in 10 years, so we want to be part of that. I’m very excited about the market opportunities in China,” he said.

Stable devt of China-Russia ties beneficial to world peace, prosperity: Global Times editorial

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet the press on May 16 in Beijing. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet the press on May 16 in Beijing. Photo: Xinhua

On May 16, Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is in China on a state visit, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The two heads of state jointly met the press, signed and issued the Joint Statement of the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation on Deepening the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination for the New Era in the Context of the 75th Anniversary of China-Russia Diplomatic Relations (hereinafter referred to as the “Statement”). Under the strategic guidance of the two leaders, China and Russia have consistently developed their bilateral relations based on the principles of non-alignment, non-confrontation, and not targeting any third party, setting an example of peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation between major powers. This not only aligns with the fundamental interests of both countries and their peoples but also contributes to regional and global peace, stability, and prosperity.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia. Summarizing the notable progress in China-Russia relations over the past 75 years, President Xi said that it is attributable to the two countries’ commitment to five principles. First, China and Russia are committed to mutual respect as the fundamental principle of relations, and always render support for each other’s core interests. Second, China and Russia are committed to win-win cooperation as the driving force of relations, and work to foster a new paradigm of mutual benefit. Third, China and Russia are committed to lasting friendship as the foundation of relations, and carry forward the torch of Sino-Russian friendship. Fourth, China and Russia are committed to strategic coordination as an underpinning of relations, and steer global governance in the right direction. Fifth, China and Russia are committed to fairness and justice as the purpose of relations, and dedicated to the political settlement of hotspots. These “five principles” set an exemplary model for relations between neighboring major powers and will continue to guide China-Russia relations toward new successes.

The relationship between China and Russia, two major powers, is unique in the history of modern international relations. The two countries are not military-political allies, but rather represent a new model of major power relations characterized by non-alignment, non-confrontation, and not targeting any third country. The development of their relationship has its own internal logic and driving force. It is not a threat to any country, nor is it subject to any interference or discord sown by any third party. This is a summary of the extraordinary 75-year development history of China-Russia relations. Both countries respect each other’s national sovereignty, security, and development interests, as well as their own chosen development path, which is the “secret” to why their relationship has become a model for the development of partnerships between major powers and neighboring countries. As President Xi said, this is not only the correct way for China and Russia to get along, but also the direction that major-country relations should strive for in the 21st century.

The close cooperation between China and Russia is a driving force for stability in the international landscape. This year, Russia assumes the rotating presidency of the BRICS countries, and China will also take over the rotating presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization within the year. The two countries work together to promote regional stability and development, strengthen the alignment between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union, and jointly promote cooperation among the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the BRICS mechanism, and countries in the Global South. Both countries uphold multilateralism, oppose hegemony and unilateralism in international organizations such as the United Nations and the G20, effectively promoting the democratization and multipolarization of the global order, as well as firmly upholding international fairness and justice.

Currently, some countries are using “national security” as a pretext to promote deglobalization and group politics, kidnapping allies to push for “decoupling” and build “small yard, high fence.” This has increased the complexity and uncertainty of regional and global security situations. As permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and Russia share similar security views and maintain effective strategic communication. They jointly oppose zero-sum games and Cold War mentality, group politics, confrontational blocs, dividing the world based on ideology and political systems, and confrontational policies and interference in other countries’ internal affairs. This is a positive asset for the world. In the Statement, China and Russia propose that, given the current geopolitical context, it is necessary to explore the establishment of a sustainable security system in the Eurasian space based on the principles of equal and indivisible security, outlining a blueprint for achieving genuine regional common security.

In recent years, with Russia’s focus on “turning to the East” in foreign economic cooperation, China-Russia economic and trade cooperation has developed rapidly. China has been Russia’s largest trading partner for 13 consecutive years, accounting for 32 percent of Russia’s foreign trade. Russia became China’s fourth largest trading partner in 2023. These achievements are not easy and have been achieved by both countries overcoming various external challenges and unfavorable factors, highlighting the solid foundation of the China-Russia relationship. This year also marks the “China-Russia Years of Culture.” The two countries and their people have a strong driving force to enhance mutual understanding and continue lasting friendship through deepening cultural exchanges.

A mountain is formed by accumulation of soil and an ocean is formed by accumulation of water. After 75 years of solid accumulation, lasting friendship and all-round cooperation between China and Russia provide a strong impetus for the two countries to forge ahead despite wind and rain. In the future, guided by head-of-state diplomacy, the two countries, standing at a new historical starting point, will jointly promote the all-round development of the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for the new era, create more benefits for their peoples and make a due contribution to global security and stability.

China, Russia create a new paradigm of major-country relations

The Temple of Heaven in Beijing (left) and Moscow Kremlin's Spasskaya Tower. Photos: VCG

The Temple of Heaven in Beijing (left) and Moscow Kremlin’s Spasskaya Tower. Photos: VCG

Editor’s Note:

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Russia. Before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to China scheduled from May 16 to 17, Global Times reporter
(GT) Xia Wenxin, Yang Sheng and Yang Ruoyu exclusively spoke with the Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui
(Zhang) on the development of the relationship between the two countries, the Ukraine crisis and China-Russia cultural exchanges, among other topics.

GT: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was formally sworn in on May 7 and chose China as the destination of his first foreign trip after his inauguration. What are your expectations for President Putin’s visit to China? This year is the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia, what new opportunities will the future development of China-Russia relations bring to the two countries?


Zhang: Under the strategic guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Putin, the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era between China and Russia is currently in its best historical period. Not long ago, President Xi sent a congratulatory message to President Putin when the latter was re-elected, highlighting the close friendship and political mutual trust between the leaders of the two countries.

China and Russia are both major powers and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and adhere to the principle of non-alliance, non-confrontation and non-targeting of any third party. They continue to deepen their friendly relations and strategic cooperation to create a new paradigm of major-country relations that is completely different from the Cold War era. Over the past 75 years of diplomatic relations, the political mutual trust between the two countries has continued to deepen, and the results of mutually beneficial cooperation have been fruitful, with increasing people-to-people exchanges and close international cooperation. 

Last year, the trade volume between China and Russia reached a historic high of over $240 billion, with “Made in China” products becoming increasingly popular and trusted by Russian consumers. Meanwhile, Russian agricultural and seafood products are selling well in China, fully demonstrating the strong resilience and broad prospects of mutual cooperation between the two countries. Maintaining and developing the relationship between China and Russia meets the common expectations of the two peoples and is in line with the trend of global development, with important implications for maintaining global strategic stability and promoting positive interactions among major countries. 

As this year marks the 75th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations, China and Russia will further strengthen strategic cooperation, cultivate new momentum for cooperation and help each other achieve development and revitalization. The two countries will also continue to enhance international multilateral cooperation, practice true multilateralism and make contributions to the security and stability of both countries and the world.

GT: Switzerland will host a high-level international conference in June to discuss the Russia-Ukraine crisis, but Russia said it is not invited. Do you think it’s overly optimistic to expect a cease-fire in the current conflict to be reached? What are the biggest obstacles to reaching an agreement? Some voices in the West believe that Russia’s strategic partnership with China is the source of confidence for Russia to continue this conflict. What is your take on this?

 

Zhang: In regard to the Ukraine crisis, China has always adhered to an objective and just position, always standing on the side of peace and dialogue, actively advocating for peace and promoting talks. President Xi has put forward four principles, called for joint efforts in four areas and shared three observations on Ukraine which outline China’s fundamental approach to the issue.

Unfortunately, there is still no sign of a cease-fire in the current crisis, and the conflict is still escalating and expanding. The parties involved are not willing to budge on their positions, with significant differences in understanding. Some external forces are still adding fuel to the fire and fanning the flames. 

History has proven that the end point of any conflict is the negotiating table. China supports the timely convening of an international conference recognized by both Russia and Ukraine, with equal participation of all parties and fair discussion of all peace proposals. China is willing to continue to play its unique role and contribute Chinese wisdom and strength to promote a political solution to the Ukraine crisis.

The China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era has never targeted any third party, nor does it tolerate any third party interference or coercion. China is neither the creator of the Ukraine crisis nor a party to it. China firmly rejects groundless accusations over the normal trade and economic exchanges between China and Russia, under excuses of the Ukraine crisis. We will firmly defend the legitimate rights and interests of our enterprises. At the same time, we advise relevant countries to stop shifting blame on China and make real efforts to politically resolve the Ukraine crisis.

Zhang Hanhui. Photo: Courtesy of Chinese Embassy in Russia

Zhang Hanhui. Photo: Courtesy of Chinese Embassy in Russia

GT: Over the past two years, the US and some Western countries have imposed sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction on Russia. What impacts do these measures have on foreign companies operating in Russia, including Chinese companies?

Zhang: China opposes any form of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction that have no basis in international law. Implementing economic sanctions not only fails to solve security issues, but also harms the normal lives of the people in the relevant countries, disrupts the global market and worsens the already slowing world economy. 

China and Russia are natural partners with a strong vitality and broad prospects for cooperation. China firmly opposes illegal unilateral sanctions against Chinese companies and will take necessary measures to firmly defend the legitimate trade interests and rights of Chinese companies and steadily promote cooperation in various fields between China and Russia to benefit the people of both countries.

GT: The 2024 BRICS Summit is scheduled to be held in Russia in later half of this year , marking the first summit since the expansion of the bloc. What are your expectations for the future development of the BRICS mechanism? Meanwhile, China is the rotating chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) this year, and China and Russia will work together to illuminate the “Southern Moment” of global governance. How do you think both sides will promote the multipolarization of the world order?

Zhang: The collective rise of emerging market countries and developing countries, represented by BRICS and the SCO, is fundamentally changing the international landscape. As leaders of the Global South, BRICS and the SCO have expanded successively, once again demonstrating the strong vitality of the two organizations and reflecting the increasing influence of the Global South in global governance. 

Russia undertakes chairmanship of BRICS this year, and China supports Russia in hosting the first summit after the expansion of the BRICS mechanism. China is willing to work with Russia to deepen cooperation in various fields among new and old member countries, lead the BRICS mechanism steadily forward, and further taking on the role building a better world through BRICS. China will be the rotating chair of the SCO in the second half of this year, and China supports Kazakhstan in hosting this year’s SCO summit. China is willing to work with all parties to continue to promote the “Shanghai Spirit,” solidly implement the summit outcomes, promote cooperation in various fields and build a closer SCO community of shared future.

Unlike some countries that form small cliques and groups with a cold war mentality, the BRICS countries and members of the SCO have always adhered to the principle of win-win cooperation, insisting on dialogue instead of confrontation, partnership instead of alliance, and handshake instead of fist. 

They have become a model for building a new type of international relations and practicing true multilateralism, and are a strong force against hegemonism and for promoting world multipolarity. China will continue to work with all countries, including Russia, to deepen and solidify cooperation within BRICS and the SCO, injecting BRICS-style dynamic and SCO’s contribution to the establishment of a just and reasonable new international political and economic order.

GT: This year is also the “China-Russia Year of Culture.” What role do you think cultural exchanges between China and Russia play in their relationship? How do the Russian people perceive Chinese culture? Could you introduce some of the activities that China will hold this year to promote cultural exchanges between China and Russia?

Zhang: In October last year, Xi and Putin agreed to take the 2024-2025 China-Russia years of culture as an opportunity to carry out more diverse cultural activities. Cultural exchange is the bridge for the people of China and Russia to learn from each other and understand each other.

In recent years, we have held many exciting Chinese cultural activities in Russia, which have greatly aroused the strong interest of the Russian people in Chinese culture, effectively promoting mutual understanding between the two countries and deepening the traditional friendship between China and Russia. At the same time, with the continuous promotion of visa-free travel between the two countries, more and more Russians are traveling to China. We believe that Russian friends will be able to experience the real China and fall in love with the diverse Eastern culture during their travels.

Within the framework of the China-Russia Years of Culture, we will organize a variety of rich and colorful exchange of activities, including exhibitions of cultural relics, film screenings, stage art performances, youth cultural and creative exchanges, and exchanges between Chinese and Russian writers. This goal is to achieve a multi-channel, multi-level and all-round development of China-Russia cultural exchanges. Through cultural exchanges, we will continue to promote bilateral cultural exchanges, deepen mutual understanding between the two peoples, strengthen the foundation of friendly sentiments between the two countries and make new contributions to the deepening development of China-Russia relations.