US employing 'Cold War' strategies in information campaign against China

Recently disclosed information revealed that the CIA has been secretly operating on Chinese social media in recent years, attempting to shape public opinion about the Chinese government in targeted areas, which, analysts warned, not only demonstrates the modern application of Cold War-era strategies but also highlights the significance of information warfare in current global politics, undermining regional stability and normal development.

Reuters recently reported that former US officials with direct knowledge of the highly classified operation disclosed that former US president Donald Trump authorized the CIA to initiate secret operations on Chinese social media platforms, aimed at swaying public opinion in China against the Chinese government in certain regions.

This covert operation began in 2019 and had not been previously exposed. US officials declined to provide specifics about these operations, according to the report.

Reuters mentioned that CIA spokesperson Chelsea Robinson declined to comment on the existence, objectives, or impact of this operation. The impact of these secret operations is not known and neither has it been confirmed as to whether the Biden administration has continued them.

However, CIA Director Bill Burns recently wrote in "Foreign Affairs" that the US has increased its resources for intelligence gathering, analysis, and operations against China. Over the last two years, the CIA's budget for work related to China has more than doubled, with an increase in recruitment and training of Chinese-speaking staff and intensified competition with China in Latin America, Africa, and the Indo-Pacific region.

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Friday at a daily press conference that the US, while often accusing other countries of spreading disinformation, is in fact the true breeding ground of disinformation. "Spreading disinformation cannot inhibit China's progress but will only discredit the US," he said.

Carefully-selected targets

According to the report, the CIA's operations intended to alter public sentiment within China and specific countries such as those in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific region by spreading false information and negative narratives.

The three former US officials told Reuters that the CIA formed a special agent team that spread negative information about the Chinese government using fake online identities and relayed derogatory content to foreign news organizations.

Observers specializing in these regions have felt the ripples caused by these actions.
Gu Xiaosong, dean of the ASEAN Research Institute at the Hainan Tropical Ocean University, said that Southeast Asia has always been crucial for the US in formulating its foreign policy. To advance its Indo-Pacific strategy, the US needs this region as a pawn to suppress China's rise.

The US seeks to provoke competition between Southeast Asia and China, thereby affecting China's image in the region. For example, it depicts China as a threat to Southeast Asia, accuses China of obstructing so-called "freedom of navigation" in the South China Sea, and plays the common trick of spreading irresponsible remarks.

In the South Pacific region, when China advanced its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), media influenced by the US and the West extensively propagated terms like the "debt trap" and "militarization" in association with China.

When China initiated the BRI in the Pacific region, the US and Australia repeatedly warned the island nations about the potential "debt traps" posed by Chinese projects. However, most of the debt in these countries is still predominantly held by the US and Australia, Yang Honglian, a Fiji-based senior researcher at the Pacific Islands Research Center at Liaocheng University in Shandong, told the Global Times in a previous interview.

While the US accuses China of creating debt traps in these nations, it also established the US International Development Finance Corporation with a budget of $60 billion to offer alternative financial assistance.

In the current dynamics of the Pacific island nations, Western media maintains a strong presence. Western countries label positive reporting by Chinese media while promoting the use of Associated Press news in the local media for free, Yang said.

"These are the countries that China has offered a development alternative that is geared toward win-win partnership rather than patronizing and conditional aid," Karanja Ngina, an observer on African affairs, noted. "The US has treated many of these countries and regions like discarded toys," he added.

Now, faced with the undeniable growth brought about by partnership with China, the US wants its discarded toys back, not for the purpose of doing better what China is doing well, but to stop any form of progress from taking place, Ngina said.

Countries that threaten US hegemony or refuse to politically or financially align with the US-led West are soon engulfed in never-ending wars under the pretext of "bringing democracy to the people." While countries not seen as valuable financial or geopolitical assets are ignored, only ever used as pawns to advance the US' agenda, Ngina noted.

Savvy tricks

The methods of the secret operation revealed this time are not new maneuvers by the US; even Reuters mentioned the intense information warfare waged by the US against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

During the Cold War era, the CIA was involved in disseminating 80 to 90 articles daily aimed at destabilizing the Soviet Union. The report quoted Loch Johnson, a University of Georgia political scientist who studies the use of such tactics, who said that covert messaging by the US could influence certain audiences.

Declassified documents reveal that, during the 1950s, the agency even established an astrology magazine in East Germany that featured ominous forecasts about communist leaders, according to Reuters.

In recent decades, the US has established news and cultural media outlets specifically targeting certain nations. Radio and television networks, fostered by the US and funded by the government, broadcast propaganda against targeting countries in dozens of languages around the clock.

Using false information as a tool to attack other nations has become an "industry chain" of disinformation, including financial backing (referred to as "black gold"), spreading negative narratives ("black theories"), and using media mouthpieces ("black mouths") to influence international opinion, analysts noted.

In recent years, some bizarre and false narratives about China have emerged. These include exaggerated claims about China's political and economic influence, misinformation about its social systems and policies, and unfounded allegations regarding its global intentions. Such narratives often gain traction through social media and certain news outlets, contributing to skewed perceptions and misunderstandings about China in the international community.

One example of such false narratives is how a few US media outlets and opinion leaders absurdly described Lujiazui, Shanghai's bustling financial district, as a "ghost town" to denigrate China's economy. People soon realized that the images showing empty streets in Lujiazui were taken from carefully chosen angles and at specific times to create a misleading impression.

Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, told the Global Times that the increasingly aggressive nature of US and Western allies' media campaigns against China amidst the China-US competition, aiming to weaken China's soft power and influence globally.

He lamented the transformation of public opinion into the tool of geopolitical rivalry, highlighting targeted efforts to undermine harmony between the Chinese public and the government, potentially jeopardizing China's decades of peaceful development.

Countering disinformation

Amidst the intensifying US-China competition, actions characterized as media campaigns against China have reportedly escalated misunderstandings, eroded trust, and heightened tensions, contributing to regional instability. Observers note that these campaigns could undermine political and social stability in specific areas, with long-term repercussions.

In response, China has been bolstering its cybersecurity measures, enhancing information scrutiny, and promoting international cooperation to counter these information warfare tactics.

The narrative of China as a reliable partner contrasts sharply with accusations from the US, such as the "debt trap" theory associated with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China's efforts aim to clarify its foreign policy and improve its image abroad, countering negative portrayals and advocating for a narrative of mutual benefit and non-interference, experts noted.

Li emphasized the necessity for China to protect its public from Western media's malignant influence and initiate more constructive dialogue with positive forces in the West. This approach seeks to encourage a rational policy perspective and strengthen ties with Global South countries, thereby exposing and countering Western disinformation strategies.

Strengthening cooperation with China the national consensus in Pakistan: ambassador

Editor's Note:

China and Pakistan share a strong and enduring friendship that dates back to the 1950s, and the China-Pakistan relationship is a shining example of strong bilateral ties based on mutual respect and shared interests. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is also a flagship project under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that aims to enhance connectivity and trade between the two countries. How will the CPEC develop in the next decade? How does Pakistan envision the development of ties with China? Global Times reporters Xie Wenting and Chu Daye (GT) spoke with Pakistani Ambassador to China Khalil-ur-Rahman Hashmi (Hashmi) on these and other crucial matters.
GT: As the new Pakistani Ambassador to China, what are your priorities? What has impressed you most about China so far?

Hashmi: The topmost priority for me is threefold: a) to further deepen the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between our two countries; b) to solidify the bonds of friendship between our two peoples; and c) to implement the consensus reached between the leadership of our two countries.

This is my second tenure in China, and I've been thoroughly impressed by the progress made by China in the last 15 years. The first thing that struck me when I landed in Beijing in November last year was the massive improvement in air quality. However, air quality is just one aspect of the very well-rounded development in diverse sectors including human, social, technological, and economic development. All these facets have witnessed steady and positive development. That's what has impressed me the most.

GT: In what new areas do you hope China and Pakistan can further enhance cooperation?

Hashmi: I believe cooperation between Pakistan and China is already very multi-dimensional, covering almost every area. For example, we have just completed 10 years of intense and multidimensional cooperation under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is the pioneering project of President Xi's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The first phase of CPEC was primarily focused on two things: infrastructure (including transport infrastructure) and energy. Both these areas are key ingredients for any economy to grow rapidly. The first decade of CPEC has laid important ground for fast-tracking development. Moving forward, it will be important to prioritize industrial cooperation and industrialization, including through promoting special economic zones and attracting and facilitating new investments. We welcome Chinese enterprises and businesses to invest in diverse sectors such as agriculture, mining, information technology, textiles, engineering, and electric vehicles.

GT: Will changes in the Pakistani government impact bilateral relations between China and Pakistan?

Hashmi: Over the 73 years, Pakistan-China relationship has become very solid and assumed unique characteristics in terms of inter-state relations. Ours is a relationship that is not affected by internal developments in either country or regional and international events. That is why we refer to it as an ironclad relationship that has stood the test of time. In Pakistan, there is a national consensus across political parties and various segments of society on further strengthening our bilateral ties with China.

With the recent elections, a new government is being formed, and I am confident that it will play its role in further bolstering our strategic cooperative partnership with China.
GT: Could you elaborate on Pakistan's plan for the next decade of development within the CPEC?

Hashmi: I would use three terms for next phase of CPEC: connectivity; infrastructure, and industrialization; and agriculture.

Connectivity is a multidimensional concept including but not limited to physical, digital, and people-to-people connectivity. One tangible outcome in terms of physical connectivity is the optimization of the Mainline-1 railway project.

As for industrialization, we are looking at the prioritization of certain sectors. Currently, there already is the prioritization of four special economic zones. I personally visited one of these zones in Pakistan (Rashakai Special Economic Zone in Kyhber Pakhtunkhwa province) recently. We are taking steps to speed up operations so that more companies can come and invest. We are also establishing a free trade zone at Gwadar.

Agriculture is another area receiving a lot of focus these days. We would be looking at collaborating on projects related to seed technology, drip irrigation techniques and induction of modern agricultural machinery.

GT: Could you provide us with some details regarding the progress of the Mainline-1 project?

Hashmi: We are making steady progress. China Railway Administration completed a technical study in late of the Mainline-1 project. They have assessed the project to be commercially feasible. The project can sustain itself and will pay off in the long term.

Our two sides are now looking at the next steps, including formal approval within our own system, following procedures, and then finalizing the financing agreement.

GT: What is your opinion on the efforts made by certain Western media outlets to portray CPEC as a so-called "debt trap" for Pakistan?

Hashmi: For me, I see it as no more than propaganda or political opinion, and not facts.

It is important to see things in perspective. The industrial development - infrastructure, energy, road infrastructure, and port infrastructure development - entails huge investments. Developing countries find it extremely difficult to mobilize financing for such projects. It has always been the case that developing countries seek different means of financing. What has happened is that over a period of time, these big projects were done through the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and similar organizations.

Unfortunately, the funding available within these organizations has decreased and the gap has been filled by China. So, instead of criticizing China, China should, in fact, be appreciated because it has made that financing available again to so many countries in the developing world.

As I mentioned, infrastructure and energy are key ingredients that lay the foundation for sustainable economic growth, jobs, and livelihoods. Countries rely on grants, investments, and concessional loans for these projects. Concessional loans have low interest rates by definition. After investing in infrastructure and energy, the economy begins to grow. Industrialization cannot succeed without sufficient energy and transport infrastructure. As economic activity increases, more businesses and investors come in, generating more revenue. This revenue not only pays off the loans but also sets the stage for rapid economic growth.

GT: Given the security challenges in the region, including the spillover effect of terrorism in Afghanistan, how does Pakistan cooperate with China on security issues to ensure regional stability?

Hashmi: We have had very close cooperation and coordination consultation with China for many years on several levels. When it comes to security issues in the region, especially with respect to Afghanistan, we have a trilateral mechanism involving Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China.

Pakistan and China also have special representatives on Afghanistan. There is a lot of consultation and coordination underway, as well as goodwill to help Afghanistan be economically viable. There is a willingness to help Afghanistan overcome its challenges in security and the economy among others. It is clear that without addressing the security challenges, which are exacerbated by groups like ISKP and TTP, it is very difficult to make the economy work, promote economic growth, create jobs, stimulate economic activity, or develop infrastructure.

The amount of money and effort spent on building infrastructure can be destroyed by these groups, as has been the case in the past. It is therefore important that relevant authorities in Afghanistan pay attention to the concerns that have been expressed by neighboring countries on security issues, because it is a common concern for their neighboring countries.
GT: What specific measures will Pakistan take to protect Chinese personnel and enterprises operating in Pakistan?

Hashmi: The safety and security of Chinese persons in Pakistan continues to remain a priority for Government of Pakistan. We have established a dedicated division of security forces for protection of Chinese personnel, enterprises, and projects related to the CPEC. Of course, we are aware that there are detractors, countries and entities that seek to disrupt or damage Pakistan-China relations or economic cooperation. We have seen many examples before. It is a multi-dimensional issue where there are actors and entities both inside and outside of the country that we need to pay attention to, closely monitor their nefarious activities, and defeat them.

GT: We noticed the recent reports regarding the evidence of India's support of terrorist forces in Pakistan. What's your take on this?

Hashmi: We have shared concrete information and evidence about Indian involvement in previous years. I am referring to India's state apparatus, state agencies, and state operatives who have been involved in sabotage and terrorist activities directly targeting the CPEC and Chinese personnel in Pakistan. Much of this information and evidence has been shared with United Nations and many western countries over the years.

India's nefarious designs are exemplified by the case of a serving Indian Navy commander who was arrested by Pakistan in 2016, who confessed to planning, organizing, financing, and carrying out terrorist activities inside Pakistan at the behest of Indian authorities. This is just one example. There are other cases that substantiate Pakistan's consistent position about Indian involvement in acts of subversion and terrorism on Pakistani soil.

India has on record publicly opposed the CPEC; which is pioneering project of BRI, and a symbol of strong Pakistan-China partnership for sustainable development and shared prosperity. The Indians have an axe to grind here, but there is substantial evidence of their involvement in criminal and terrorist activities inside Pakistan.

GT: What steps are being taken to strengthen people-to-people ties between China and Pakistan?

Hashmi: People-to-people exchanges are a priority area of outreach between our two countries. For example, in 2023, my predecessor and the Embassy organized for the visit of a group of 15 Chinese tour operators to Pakistan. The idea was for them to identify potential packages for Chinese tourists to visit those places. There are different types of packages available, such as adventure tourism in the high mountains, cultural and heritage sites, and other attractions that may interest Chinese tourists. In 2023, 12 group tour operators from Pakistan also visited China for the first time and explored joint plans with their Chinese counterparts.

Also in 2023, the Embassy organized a Gandhara exhibition at the Palace Museum. This exhibition showcased the ancient connection between Pakistan and China, highlighting the people who used to travel between both countries. This exhibition also emphasized the Buddhist connection between the two nations. Many artifacts from that area were brought and displayed at the exhibition. The exhibition has since traveled to Gansu and is currently in Shenzhen, where it will conclude in March this year. These are just two examples of our efforts. Moving forward, we plan to organize and focus more on engaging the youth in various forms.

We are also planning a fashion show and Pakistan cuisine or Pakistani food week this year. We want to showcase that spicy food is not just popular in Sichuan, but also in many parts of Pakistan.

We would like to work more on showcasing similarities between the Yangtze River and the Indus River civilizations in our part of the world, as the two biggest rivers in our two countries. We know that rivers play a major role in the development of civilization.

We are exploring the possibility of hosting exhibitions on various CPEC-related products. So all in all there are a lot of activities planned for this year and beyond to deepen cultural and people-to-people ties.

Construction of China's first domestic medical isotope test reactor starts

The construction of the world's most powerful solution-type medical isotope test reactor commenced on Tuesday in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, according to information obtained by the Global Times from the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC). This development aims to better address the diagnostic and treatment requirements of tens of millions of people in China.

After becoming operational, this reactor, constructed by the Nuclear Power Institute of China under CNNC, is projected to have an annual production capacity of 100,000 curies of molybdenum-99 and 20,000 curies of iodine-131. This will address the longstanding reliance on imports and the bottleneck issue concerning these two isotopes.

Furthermore, this development is expected to catalyze the downstream industry, generating an output value of more than 4 billion yuan ($0.56 billion), thereby significantly enhancing cancer diagnosis and treatment capabilities in China.

Medical isotopes are typical radioactive isotopes that have been successfully employed in the field of medicine. Carbon-14, a mainstream medical isotope, is utilized in breath tests to detect Helicobacter pylori during routine physical examinations.

Zhao Guang, the director of the medical isotope department at the Nuclear Power Institute of China, told the Global Times that dozens of medical isotopes, such as carbon-14, iodine-131, iodine-125, and strontium-89, are highly sought-after in the detection and treatment of major diseases. However, China has traditionally depended heavily on imports for its supply of medical isotopes.

A research report from the Nuclear Power Institute of China indicates that in recent years, China has depended on imports for more than 90 percent of medical isotopes produced through nuclear reactors, with a limited variety. Meanwhile, there is a gradual increase in domestic demand for medical isotopes.

"At present, the development of medical isotopes in China mainly relies on research reactors. However, these reactors are also allocated for other tasks, severely limiting their capacity for medical isotope production. With the market demand for domestic medical isotopes and their compounds expanding at a rate of 25 to 30 percent annually, the existing reactor capacity falls significantly short of meeting the consistently increasing market needs," said Yao Gang, the head of the Nuclear Power Institute of China, in an interview with the Global Times.

He emphasized that the imbalance between supply and demand not only significantly impedes the progress of nuclear medicine in China but also poses a threat to the lives and health of the public.

In 2009, the world's largest supplier of carbon-14, Canada's National Research Universal reactor, ceased production, leading to the discontinuation of China's carbon-14 supply. Wang Conglin, Secretary of the Party Committee of the Nuclear Power Institute of China, told the Global Times that Western countries, including Canada, maintain a monopoly in medical isotope production, and the majority of China's medical isotopes are dependent on imports.

Due to the limited domestic development of the medical isotope industry, there exists a significant gap between the level of nuclear medicine in China and that in developed countries, Wang noted.

Simultaneously, depending on foreign procurement has consistently encountered issues of high prices and uncertain timely supply. Additionally, the international market is confronting supply challenges. The aforementioned research report indicates that in recent years, the global supply of medical isotopes has relied on a few research reactors in countries such as Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, South Africa, and Australia, most of which have exceeded their service life and are grappling with issues like high maintenance costs, challenging waste disposal, and safety risks. It is anticipated that they will be gradually decommissioned around 2025.
"After the medical isotope test reactor is completed, it will attain an annual production capacity of 100,000 curies of molybdenum-99 and 20,000 curies of iodine-131, surpassing the current domestic demand," Li Qing, the chief designer of the reactor, told the Global Times.

Li further explained that the construction cost of the medical isotope test reactor is only one-third of that of a regular nuclear reactor, and the fuel consumption is merely 0.4 percent of the existing technology.

Zhang Jinsong, the technical director of medical isotope R&D at the Nuclear Power Institute of China, told the Global Times that the isotope reactor is expected to be completed and operational by 2027. Upon completion, it is poised to make a significant leap in the production capacity of the two most commonly used medical isotopes, iodine-131 and molybdenum-99, transforming China from an importing country to an exporting country.

It will also reduce the prices of domestic medical isotope drugs, making them more accessible and affordable for more people, according to Zhang.

Foreign influencers in China expose true extent of US-led anti-China hatchet job

Foreign internet influencers who were tagged as "propagandists for Communist Party of China (CPC)" in a report by a US government-funded think tank strongly hit back at such "hysterical" accusations, calling the report "comical and disappointing" while noting such move aims at trying to silence the truth about China.

They have appealed for the US government to stop funding such kinds of narrative campaigns and "witch hunts" against China that extend to China-based foreign vloggers.

On November 24, 2023, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) released a lengthy report entitled "The role of foreign influencers in China's propaganda system." The report portrays them as a propaganda tool to promote or defend China's position, or to counter Western narratives, as part of the CPC's campaign to cultivate "a rising group of foreign influencers with millions of fans, which endorses pro-CCP narratives on Chinese and global social-media platforms."

Jerry Kowal, an American internet influencer and video blogger based in Shanghai with over 20 million followers on Chinese social media platforms, is one of the targets in the report.

Jerry updated with the Global Times that "there is pending litigation over the matter in multiple countries," after he publicly released a letter on December 6, 2023 that he has sent to the US Department of State, claiming that the US State Department may have used funding to unfairly attack US citizens in China via the far-right Australian think tank ASPI.

Andy Boreham, another popular Shanghai-based journalist tagged in the report, said it is quite hysterical to be portrayed as one of the "foreign propagandists" by ASPI, "which is actually the one producing fake and misleading propaganda at the behest of their foreign backers.

"Isn't it ironic?" he asked in an interview with the Global Times.

ASPI has long served as an anti-China vanguard. Its revenue data history shows that the US government is its major funding source. Analysts noted that this reflects the essence of such Western think tanks as tools for political manipulation, which spread false information, mislead the public, and poison public opinion.

This is not the first time that this particular "a thief crying 'stop thief'" tactic has been employed by the US government, which has been exposed more than once in its funding of negative news coverage of China to the tune of millions of dollars.

Under the disguise of the "free press" and "objective reporting," the US-led West is eyeing a chance to sponsor its media hit squads to reprise their roles as bounty hunters rather than journalists. This is part of the influence operation waged by some Western countries, the world's veteran players in swaying public opinion against China, analysts said.

The vloggers have called on the think tank staffers to experience the real China by coming themselves, to understand that it is absolutely possible for young "influencers" to have an amazing time in China and want to share it with the world.

Open letter to call off unfair accusations
In the report by ASPI, Jerry was mentioned over 12 times and was tagged as a propagandist who shows a "sympathetic perspective on Chinese policies and his criticisms of Western ones" especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the report states, he allegedly gained "unprecedented success in China's cyberspace" because of this.

In an opening letter, Jerry said he was disappointed to see that ASPI report mentions him as someone who "echo[s] propaganda talking points," which he said, "does not reflect who I am."

He added: "It's possible that ASPI's report might be impacting US domestic discourse. I wonder if consideration could be given to the precedent this sends when [the] US Department of State funds [the] ASPI, which then portrays US citizens, who have large followings on both Chinese and US social media, in a less than positive light."

Jerry is simply asking the US Department of State to cease further funding of the ASPI. "It's possible that a continued association with [the] ASPI might send very mixed signals about American values and might not be helpful for public diplomacy efforts."

A netizen's comment on X wrote: "It is amazing that a report like this can come out without even contacting the people they name. I am glad the letter was created - the whole thing stinks. People just want the truth and it is getting harder to get. Thank you for all you do."

While speaking to the Global Times, Jerry expressed his disappointment and indignation at how the entire matter was handled.

Not the sole stigmatized victims

"Not a speculator who touts China, but a media person who tells the truth." This is how Andy Boreham, New Zealand's columnist, journalist, and video creator, who works in Shanghai, defines himself on his X profile page.

This is precisely why Andy remains active and vocal on social media - to present China in an unbiased manner that should not be censored by Western media forces.

However, this has attracted attacks from the ASPI, who indiscriminately cast their shadow on anyone who speaks positively about China.

"I thought the report was just another example of a far-right wing, war-industry-funded piece of ill-informed, fear-mongering propaganda," Andy told the Global Times.

"According to ASPI, our lives here are absolutely hideous, repressed, and ugly, but we endure it all for money from the CPC. We cannot be telling the truth and must have been paid to trick the world into thinking China is anything but a dystopian, draconian, dangerous, dirty hellscape. It's laughable, and I don't expect anything more from them far-right wing warmongers," he said.

It is absolutely possible for young "influencers" to have an amazing time in China and want to share it with the world. That's what young people do these days. For ASPI to try and trick Australians into believing that anyone who says anything good about China has been paid by the CPC just goes to show how little they know about this place, and how invested they are in pulling the wool over the eyes of ordinary Australians so that their backers, including weapons manufacturers, the US State Department, and the Australian Defense Department, can make a pretty penny selling weapons to a scared population, Andy argued.

Jerry and Andy are not the sole victims of the West's spurious reports aimed at stigmatizing foreign influencers based in China who do not blindly align with the Western anti-China stance, but insist on reporting about a real and positive China.

Barrie VVeiss, a British media professional who moved to China in 2014, began to share what he sees and hears in China to the world while explaining the West to Chinese audiences on social media platforms shortly after his move. He created a website called Best China Info in order to break the information barriers between China and the West, and counter the anti-China stereotypes and prejudices in mainstream Western media.

He once was also a target of the ASPI. A BBC report in July 2021 listed him as one of the foreign vloggers presented as "China lovers" and cooperated with "state-owned outlets to spread China's rhetoric to the world."

"[These distorted reports] are not surprising," Barrie told the Global Times. According to Barrie, the BBC interviewed him via email before releasing that report, but did not include any of Barrie's answers or responses in the report. "Instead, they twisted the facts and further smeared me. I think they never intended to release my replies," Barrie said.

"More people need to see the real China by coming themselves, and if they can't for whatever reason, they need to hear about China from people who have been here and experienced it first-hand," Andy said. "That is what the ASPI and its far-right wing backers are trying to stop; they're trying to silence the truth about China. We shouldn't let them win."

A thief crying 'stop thief'

$500 million - that's the sum of money allocated by the US Congress to the disinformation campaign against China.

First reported by the American Prospect on February 9, 2022, a bill was passed by the US House of Representatives to allocate $500 million to media outlets for the purpose of producing journalistic content for overseas audiences that is critical of China.

Meant to "combat Chinese disinformation," the bill would direct funding to the US Agency for Global Media, a US-run foreign media service, as well as local outlets and programs to train foreign journalists.

Moreover, in September 2021, Danish scholar Jan Oberg exposed in an interview that the US has earmarked $1.5 billion to train Western media and journalists to write exclusively negative stories about China over the next five years.

In a previous interview with the Global Times, Oberg called such actions "mind-boggling" because they entirely undermine the West's own pride in free media, freedom of expression, and fairness in reporting different standpoints.

"The whole world would gain and grow tremendously if we chose cooperation and unity in diversity instead of permanent confrontation and dominance. But I seriously wonder whether the Occident can live without perceiving enemies constantly," he questioned.

The intention behind the actions of the US government and its institutions is clear - they want to use their perceived overwhelming public opinion and communication power to make the world accept the fabricated impression and narrative of China created by the US, Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.

Meanwhile, the US strongly opposes and prevents objective, balanced, and rational narratives of China from being widely accepted both domestically and internationally, Li said.

In other words, the US government and some think tanks attempting to use discourse power and communication as weapons in their comprehensive geopolitical competition with China. This can be seen as an important component of the US cognitive warfare against China, Li pointed out.

"I truly don't think anyone except the ASPI - of course at the behest of their war-industry funders and the US government - would stoop so low as to try and convince ordinary people that online 'influencers' showing the world the amazing time they're having in China is propaganda," Andy said.

Maybe the ASPI crew should come to China and see for themselves that this place is vibrant, fun, exciting, action-packed, and educational. I'm sure they would learn a lot! Hence, I would even be willing to show them around myself, he laughed.

Back to home sea: 23 rescued spotted seals released into waters as China makes progress in wildlife protection

A total of 23 rescued spotted seals were released into the waters off the coast of Dalian in Northeast China’s Liaoning Province on Tuesday as part of China's continuous efforts to protect the endangered species.

The seals were previously poached and sold, but have now been rehabilitated and marked for future protection, according to the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

The Global Times reporters visited the releasing spot and witnessed the process. A fishery law enforcement vessel arrived at a designated sea area near Dalian on Tuesday morning, carrying the spotted seals. The seals were released one by one into the sea through a special slide set up on the ship's side. They swam freely in the waves, returning to their natural habitat.

The spotted seal is a nationally protected animal in China and is classified as an endangered species. It is the only pinniped species that can reproduce in Chinese waters and is often referred to as the "panda of the sea."

The months of November and December are the migration and breeding period for wild spotted seals, and Liaodong Bay is an important habitat for them.

Thanks to enhanced protection measures the authorities have taken in recent years, the population of spotted seals in Chinese waters has reached approximately 2,000, while the global population is estimated to be between 400,000 and 600,000.

Genetic and ecological studies have shown that these 2,000 spotted seals have unique genetic genes and belong to a separate branch of independent evolution within the global population. This makes them of significant importance for the study and research on spotted seals.

To protect this rare animal, the Liaoning Dalian Spotted Seal Wetlands were established in 1992. Covering an area of 560,000 hectares with a coastline of approximately 370 kilometers, the wetlands focus on the protection of spotted seals and their ecological environment.

In January 2002, the Liaoning Dalian Spotted Seal Wetlands were included in the List of Wetlands of International Importance. The list was indentified according to the Convention on Wetlands, an intergovernmental treaty adopted on February 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar (thus commonly named Ramsar Convention). China joined the convention in 1992.

Now the wetlands have become a harmonious ecological haven with abundant biological resources, including various species of phytoplankton, zooplankton, and swimming animals. It is home to nationally protected species such as the spotted seal, finless porpoise, killer whales, false killer whales, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and East Asian river dolphins.

Since 1992, researchers in Dalian have successfully rescued 388 spotted seals and released 299 of them back into the wild, according to media reports.

Global Times

Leading experts hail China’s initiative on AI governance, call for global efforts in enhancing communication and ensuring safety

Editor's Note:

The year of 2023 has witnessed important moves taken globally to deal with the rapid development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its subsequent impact. On November 15, Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden agreed to establish China-US government talks on AI. Earlier this month, representatives and companies from 28 countries as well as the EU signed the Bletchley Declaration, a "world-first" agreement on AI to tackle the risks of frontier AI models, during the UK's AI Safety Summit. In October, China put forward the Global AI Governance Initiative at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Also in October, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General launched an Advisory Board to explore ways to link various AI governance initiatives.

These moves marked the beginning of the world's united efforts in managing AI development. It will, however, be a long time before the results of such efforts are seen. Why have major countries and international organizations decided on a proactive approach toward AI development at this time? How will the Global AI Governance Initiative lead China to contribute more to the governance and development of AI technology? In which direction will AI likely take the whole human society and how should we prepare ourselves for such a reality? The Global Times spoke with three leading Chinese experts in the field of AI, who provided deeper insights into a human-AI integrated world.

Zeng Yi, Professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Director of the Center for Long-term AI and a member of the UN High-level Advisory Body on AI:

In recent years, the application of AI has rapidly entered various sectors of society, especially in 2023, when the development of generative AI technology has reached unprecedented heights in terms of user experience and application scope. Promoting social and economic development aside, it has also brought various risks, such as a direct threat to social trust due to misinformation generated by AI; the challenges that AI may pose to social fairness and employment; and the potential safety risks and the negative impact on society following misuse, abuse, and malicious use of technology.

AI risks and safety issues are global challenges that no country can handle alone. UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for the global governance of AI risks at the UN Security Council meeting on AI in July. In a follow-up step, the UN established a dedicated high-level advisory body, of which I am one of the two Chinese members, to address the global development and governance of AI.

China has proposed the Global AI Governance Initiative. The initiative is not only a positive response to global challenges, but also substantially supports the UN in coordinating the global governance of AI.

The initiative proposes that the development of AI should adhere to the principle of a people-centered approach, with the goal of increasing the wellbeing of humanity. AI draws inspiration from natural intelligence, especially human intelligence, and strives to develop technologies with learning, reasoning, decision-making, and planning capabilities to handle and solve complex problems. It is expected to assist humans and become an empowering technology that promotes social and ecological development. Therefore, the development of AI should aim to enhance common wellbeing while adhering to human values and ethics, and promote the progress of human civilization.

At the same time, the initiative also stresses that we should adhere to the principle of mutual respect, equality, and mutual benefit in AI development. This principle first reflects China's commitment to global sustainable development and the construction of a global community of shared future in order to share development opportunities, platforms, and benefits with the world. Countries with advantages in technological development should all share the fruits and experiences of development from a global perspective while enjoying the opportunities brought about by technological development.

AI has tremendous potential value. Currently, generative AI processes and predicts information much faster than humans can. We should harness its benefits, but also pay close attention to the challenges it brings. AI has never been neutral, and without an ethical safety framework, it lacks boundaries. It is crucial to construct a robust risk, safety and security detection framework.

China has always had a global perspective and international sentiment in the governance of AI, and has been committed to actively contributing its practical experience to global governance in this field. However, successful and effective governance of AI requires joint efforts from the international community at the global scale, sharing ideas, opportunities, experiences, ensuring safety and security by collective efforts.
Liu Wei, Director of the human-machine interaction and cognitive engineering laboratory with the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications:

The main reason why the international community started to pay a lot of attention to the security issues of AI is because AI technology is advancing at an unexpected speed. With the emergence of ChatGPT, people feel that the automation level of AI products is increasing, posing the potential risk of loss of control. People worry that AI may lead to unexpected outcomes, especially when the technology is combined with certain critical security departments. For example, in the military field, if AI is combined with nuclear weapons, there is a high possibility of things getting out of control.

AI technology itself can also generate various complex risks, including economic, social, financial, cultural, and military, leading to a chain reaction in these fields. Many parts of the world are vigorously developing smart cities, smart homes, smart transportation, and smart buildings. However, if there are AI weapons, these smart technologies can become very dangerous.

As one of the pioneers in the field of AI, China has been injecting Eastern wisdom into the global governance system through practical actions, showcasing its vision and responsibility as a major country. The Chinese approach and Eastern wisdom are crucial for the management of future AI development.

The concept of "developing AI for good" may be problematic in the Western context. Technology is an objective existence in the material world, while "goodness" is an inevitable requirement of ethics and morality. Whether an inevitable requirement can be derived from an objective existence is a topic that is still up for debate in the West.

AI is the crystallization of human wisdom. Despite being labeled as "intelligent," it is, at most, an advanced tool created by humans. The development direction and utility of AI technologies are fundamentally determined by human perspectives, horizons, understanding, and means. The essence of "technology for good" is the goodness of "humans." Therefore, in terms of regulation, it is necessary to adhere to the concept of ethics first, establish and improve an ethical accountability mechanism for AI, and clarify the responsibilities and rights boundaries of AI entities.

In terms of research and development, it is necessary to ensure that advanced technological methods are always under responsible and reliable human control, prevent the generation of data algorithm biases, and make the research and development process controllable and trustworthy. In terms of usage, it is necessary to ensure personal privacy and data security, establish emergency mechanisms and fallback measures in advance, and provide necessary training for users.

The future direction of intelligent development should be "the coordinated development of the human-machine-environment system while operating at high speed." Here, "human" involves managers, designers, manufacturers, marketers, consumers, and maintainers among others; "machine" not only refers to the software and hardware in intelligence equipment, but also involves the mechanisms connecting various links in the industrial chain; "environment" involves the collaborative environment of "government, industry, academia, research, and business" in many fields. This judgment takes into account both the rationality and science of the West and the natural principles and ethics of the East, as well as the complementarity of humans and machines.

It is unlikely that AI will surpass human intelligence based on the existing mathematical system and design patterns of software and hardware. However, it might be possible in a human-machine-environment system in the future. The future of human-machine fusion intelligence lies in symbiosis, combining human wisdom with machine intelligence. The essence of human-machine interaction is coexistence, combining human physiology with machine physics.
Brian Tse, Founder and CEO of Concordia AI, a Beijing-based social enterprise focused on AI safety and governance and a policy affiliate at the Centre for the Governance of AI founded at the University of Oxford:

The world is entering a golden era of opportunity for international cooperation and the governance of AI.

China is indispensable in global discussions on addressing AI's risks and opportunities. In our recent 150-plus page report "State of AI Safety in China," Concordia AI analyzes the landscape of Chinese domestic governance, international governance, technical research, expert views, lab self-governance, and public opinion in addressing frontier AI risks. Based on the report, we believe China can make many invaluable contributions to global AI governance.

On domestic governance, China has moved faster than any other major jurisdiction in regulating recommendation algorithms, deepfakes, and generative AI. As countries seek to develop their own domestic governance frameworks to mitigate AI's worst risks, there is a golden window of opportunity for policymakers to exchange lessons and it would be immensely beneficial for China to share its regulatory insights with the rest of the world.

On the international stage, China can help empower the voices of countries in the Global South. Proliferation of frontier models has major dangers, but these cannot be addressed without engaging the Global South. Moreover, global inequality will be exacerbated if the Global South lacks AI solutions to pressing social and environmental challenges. As the first steps toward promoting greater equality, Chinese labs have been actively working to incorporate underrepresented languages in large language models. For example, China's National Peng Cheng Laboratory has constructed a diverse corpus dataset and data quality assessment toolkit, covering Chinese, English, and over 50 languages from countries and regions that are part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

In technical AI safety, China has cutting-edge research and top talent to offer. China's robustness research has already garnered global recognition. Over the last year, Chinese research groups have also started exploring increasingly sophisticated frontier AI safety issues such as safety evaluations, red-teaming (a tool used in cybersecurity to test how an organization would respond to a genuine cyberattack), and scalable oversight.

As China and the US have agreed to establish China-US government talks on AI, we also suggest the two countries explore cooperation in the following areas:

First, China and the US should establish regular channels of communication involving policymakers, leading developers, and experts on AI safety. Currently, frontier AI capabilities are highly concentrated in a few large model research institutions and companies in China and the US. Therefore, China-US dialogue should consider involving the leading developers, gradually establishing mechanisms that serve common interests such as sharing information about emergent risks and safety incidents.

Second, China and the US should jointly strengthen research investment and cooperation in the field of AI safety. Recently, more than 20 top scientists in AI development and governance from countries including China, the US, the UK, Canada, and others from Europe co-authored a position paper and convened in-person to propose, among other things, that governments and companies allocate at least one third of AI R&D funding to ensure the safety and ethical use of AI systems.

Third, China and the US should agree on "bottom lines" for the development of frontier AI. For example, China and the US could jointly commit to banning AI from launching nuclear weapons, requiring human decision-making pre-launch.

Fourth, China and the US can learn from each other's AI governance and regulatory programs. Each country and AI lab is feverishly experimenting internally, trying to perfect a cocktail of AI governance policies for their unique situation. However, there are more similarities than many think; for instance, Senators Blumenthal and Hawley's Bipartisan Framework for US AI legislation proposes a national oversight body, licensing requirements, and safety incident reporting requirements to govern AI systems, similar to provisions in an expert draft for China's national AI law.

Fifth, China and the US should jointly explore and promote international frameworks and standardization norms. For example, China's National Information Security Standardization Technical Committee (TC260) has released a standards implementation guide on watermarking generative AI and additional plans for drafting future generative AI standards. China's TC260, US National Institute of Standards and Technology, and international bodies such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers can help formulate international standards to prevent the creation and distribution of deceptive AI-generated content.

Yet dialogues and actions between China and the US are only a part of the picture. As we enter into an era of rapid progress in AI development, it is imperative that countries around the world transcend their immediate differences to prevent catastrophic risks and harness AI for the betterment of humanity.

Modernization of China’s border region with Myanmar brings mutual growth, aids in preservation of Wa ethnic culture

Walking through the border villages along the China-Myanmar border in Lincang, Southwest China's Yunnan Province, one is greeted by traditional wooden houses, their intricate carvings and colorful decorations reflecting the rich cultural heritage of the local ethnic groups. 

The last decade has witnessed the local government's great efforts in the governance of border trade, tourism, river and lake management, and ecosystem conservation, to create a prosperous rural model, while emphasizing ethnic unity.

In June 2019, Lincang took the lead in initiating the construction of modernized border villages. Today, 241 villages glitter like a string of beautiful pearls along the more than 290 kilometers of border in Lincang, lighting the southwestern border of China. The area has also received particular attention from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In August, 2021, Xi encouraged veteran Party chiefs from border villages of Southwest China's Yunnan Province to play an exemplary role in leading villagers in building a beautiful homeland, maintaining ethnic unity, and safeguarding territorial integrity, the Xinhua News Agency reported.  

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks in his letter replying to 10 veteran Party chiefs from nine border villages of Cangyuan Wa Autonomous County. 

Xi said he was very glad to hear the country's poverty-relief drive has brought about profound changes for locals, and said he could feel the Wa people's faith and trust in the Party and the country.

In his letter, Xi said that eliminating poverty is a vital step toward better lives for the people, and he called for continued efforts to vitalize rural areas, boost development in border regions to benefit the people living there, pursue the common prosperity of all ethnic groups, and promote prosperity and stability in border areas.

Cangyuan, the county with the largest ethnic Wa population, has made remarkable progress in improving people's well-being since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012. Locals now have better access to safe housing, drinking water, medical services and schooling.

By the end of 2019, all 40,000-plus impoverished people from the county's 67 poverty-stricken villages had shaken off poverty.

The Global Times found a group of Wa women sitting together and skillfully weaving bamboo baskets and other handicrafts at the central square of the village. The women work against a backdrop of beautifully adorned doorsteps, further showcasing their creativity and their diligent, harmonious, and joyful life as inheritors of traditional culture.

Villagers told the Global Times that local people have a common awareness that "ecological areas should be protected like our eyes."

The Nanlun River National Nature Reserve located in the middle section of the China-Myanmar border, for example, has a forest coverage rate of up to 93.8 percent. 

Thanks to great efforts in habitat restoration and wildlife conservation in the reserve in recent years, previously endangered species such as the binturong and the Chinese serow can be found there. The calves of three Asian elephants have been monitored for four consecutive years, and multiple new plant species have been discovered, demonstrating significant achievements in biodiversity conservation.

A better environment

Guomen New Village in Cangyuan, which was built in October 2019, is a village on the mountainside with strong ethnic Wa characteristics. The refreshing and exquisite farmhouse courtyards attract many tourists who wish to experience the unique charm of ethnic culture and border village living.

In the village's Wa cultural square, the slogan "Observing Two Countries in One Village" is eye-catching.

Guomen New Village's chief, Bao Aibao, told the Global Times that the ethnic Wa people in China and Myanmar share the same ancestry, language, and customs, and maintain friendly relations. In recent years, many favorable measures in the village have driven the economic development of neighboring towns in northern Myanmar.

Cangyuan Wa Autonomous County, for instance, has made great efforts in recent years to plan and construct urban and rural water supply systems and consolidate the construction of water conservancy infrastructure in border areas in order to provide stable and clean water sources for both Chinese and Myanmar residents through cross-basin infrastructure, benefiting downstream residents in Myanmar.

"The new village has also planned to build a commercial and logistics special area and a border trade market. A centralized market can lower transportation costs and make business more convenient," he said. Bao used to do business on the China-Myanmar border, trading agricultural products such as konjac, coix seed, black fungus, and soybeans.

With the joint efforts from both China and Myanmar to combat rampant cross-border telecommunications fraud, more tourists now have confidence in visiting the villages along the China-Myanmar border, Bao said.
During the fieldtrip of the second Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation Joint Media Tour, foreign media reporters along the Mekong River countries highly praised the wisdom of China's border village water management and ecological conservation, and were eager to see such successes replicated in their own countries.

Bao also said that despite of the recent armed conflict in northern Myanmar, border villages on the Chinese side have not been affected. The villagers have not heard any gunshots or sounds of fighting, partly because the Wa State across the border is not a focal point in the conflict.

Liu Yun, a research fellow at the Chinese think tank Taihe Institute, told the Global Times that the outbreak of conflict in northern Myanmar has limited impact on border villages in China. The response from the Chinese side mainly involved implementing preventive measures and increasing border patrols to ensure the safety and security of border areas.

Liu also noted that, in recent years, there have been positive developments in the governance of China's border villages. This includes the implementation of improved industrial policies and other measures. These improvements have had a ripple effect. As a result, there has been an increase in the number of people participating in cross-border trade and production activities.

China continues Sky Net anti-corruption campaign to pursue fugitives

China will continue an anti-corruption operation codenamed Sky Net to push forward the construction of an integrated mechanism for tracking and recovering fugitives, according to a decision made at a meeting on Tuesday of China’s fugitive repatriation and asset recovery office under the Central Anti-Corruption Coordination Group, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The National Supervisory Commission has taken the lead in launching a special operation to track down and recover international fugitives for duty-related crimes. The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) will launch the "Fox Hunt" campaign, while the People's Bank of China will team up with the MPS to tackle disguised transfer of misappropriated assets overseas, according to the meeting.

The Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate will jointly wage a campaign to restore stolen assets involved in cases whose criminal suspects or defendants escaped or died. The Organization Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee will partner with other authorities to address unregulated issuance and possession of relevant documents.

The meeting noted that China has been continuously deepening cross-border corruption governance and further progress was made in 2023. According to Xinhua News Agency, the Sky Net campaign recovered a total of 1,624 fugitives last year.

The meeting also called for the campaign to be reinforced, in order to win the long-lasting battle against corruption.

China's Sky Net campaign has been deployed since April 2015. It aims to track down fugitives suspected of involvement in graft, while preventing corrupt officials from fleeing abroad and recovering illegal gains.

Is France gearing up for restrictions on China’s textile industry?

France's lower house of parliament approved a bill seeking penalties on fast fashion products on March 14. The bill calls for gradually increasing penalties up to 10 euros ($11) per individual item of clothing by 2030, as well as a ban on advertising for these products. The bill must head to the Senate before it becomes law.

According to their view, "The popularity of fashion retailers Shein and Temu has disrupted the retail sector while established players like Zara and H&M continue to largely rely on predicting shoppers' preferences."

The proposer of the bill, Anne-Cécile Violland, emphasized that it targets not only fast fashion brands like Primark, Shein, and Zara, but also e-commerce platforms such as Temu, AliExpress, Amazon and Zalando that sell fast fashion products.

Although the standards and thresholds for the companies covered by this bill have not been clearly defined, it is generally believed that it targets fast-rising and widely watched companies like Shein and Temu.

Their common feature is the clothing and textile supply chain in China, which reacts more quickly and agilely. 

Once this bill is passed, fast fashion brands like Primark, Shein, and Zara and their Chinese clothing supply chains, as well as platforms with a large number of clothing and fashion product merchants and sellers from China such as Temu, AliExpress, Zalando and Amazon will be affected. 

In recent years, with a strong industrial base and flexible supply chain model, Chinese-made fashion products are more diverse, updated faster, and have higher cost performance, attracting more purchases from French consumers and having an impact on the local retail industry in France. 

Agence France-Presse stated that a series of measures taken by the French National Assembly are particularly aimed at "large-scale manufacturers from China." 

An article published by French media, Les Echo, points out that the bill hides some potentially regrettable side-effects, unreasonable and naïve thinking, and less than legitimate motives. One side-effect is that the people who are ultimately impacted by this bill are not the "fashion victims" who are easily influenced by internet celebrities, but those from lower-income groups. 

It is also unreasonable and naïve because it is based on the assumption that a product that is 10 times more expensive must be at least 10 times more durable, but this is not always true in many cases. And finally, a clearly less than legitimate motivation is that this bill appears to be tailor-made to impact companies with connections to China's textile manufacturing supply chain. 

Zhao Yongsheng, a researcher at the Academy of China Open Economy Studies at the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE), said on March 15 that this bill clearly violates the "free trade" principles that Europeans have been advocating for many years and is a blatant step toward an "anti-globalization" approach, especially when it comes to France's trade policy toward China. 

Zhao further said that this bill, which lawmakers claim is aimed at curbing so-called "fast fashion," not only defies logic, but is also untenable from a legal standpoint. Replying on "closing doors" to foreign companies is an outdated approach in today's world and market. Instead, France should look inwards and evaluate the situation to effectively improve the competitiveness of their products.

In 2022, France was the second-largest importer of Chinese clothing.

Unlike the "new three" export products represented by electric passenger cars, lithium-ion batteries, and solar batteries, clothing is a traditional featured product among China's exports. 

In the field of clothing and fashion, well-known brands represented by Shein have emerged. Currently, Shein, Zara, Uniqlo, and H&M are among the top four global fashion brands. 

With the continuous upgrading of China's clothing and fashion industry, enterprises that leverage the Chinese supply chain, such as Shein, have become the rule makers and trend leaders of the entire industry, leading the entire domestic industry from the bottom of the global industry chain's "smile curve" to the brands and technology research and development that make up the other end of the chain.

This is also an important manifestation of the increasing influence of China's fashion industry globally. Additionally, a large number of Zara, H&M and even French retailer Decathlon's industrial chain suppliers are also located in China.

E-commerce platform companies represented by Temu, AliExpress, and TikTok Shop are also rapidly developing in markets such as Europe and the US, and products from the Chinese supply chain are quickly going global.

According to the 2024 State of Mobile report released by, a market analysis agency, Shein, Temu, and AliExpress ranked first, second, and ninth respectively in the global shopping app download rankings in 2023, while Amazon ranked third.

The lawmakers say the reason they are accelerating the introduction of restrictions on fast fashion companies is to "help offset their environmental impact." Shein stated that it produces clothes based on existing demand, which allows its rate of unsold garments to remain consistently in the low single digits, whereas traditional players can waste up to 40 percent.

Shein added that the only impact of the bill would be to "worsen the purchasing power of French consumers, at a time when they are already feeling the impact of the cost-of-living crisis."

The Chinese clothing and textile industry chain behind brands and e-commerce platforms such as Shein, Primark, Zara, and Temu has had a serious impact on French companies, which may be an important reason for the introduction of the bill by French lawmakers. This is not the first time that France has targeted China's advantageous industries.

In February, the French government announced the suspension of a plan to lease electric cars at affordable prices to low-income households. The program had only been implemented for six weeks. The plan is expected to be relaunched in 2025. 

French officials said the subsidy program was limited by the shortage of French electric cars and urged French automakers to speed up production. "There is huge market demand, but we don't have enough French products yet."

It is understood that electric cars eligible for this subsidy program must meet the latest "carbon footprint" and other relevant requirements set by the French government, which is believed to be aimed at excluding cheap Chinese electric cars. 

French National Radio reported earlier that many European and US electric cars would also be affected by the new regulations since they include parts made in China, which means there may be "very few" electric cars left to meet the new standards.

China subsequently launched an investigation into the price of brandy imported from the European Union, which was seen as a counterattack against the EU's investigation into the influx of cheap Chinese electric cars into Europe. France was the hardest hit, considering it accounts for 99.8 percent of all EU brandy exports.

While products from the Chinese clothing and fashion industry chain have rapidly grown in European markets such as France, especially luxury goods, perfumes, and cosmetics, other fashion brands products from France have seen a steady increase in sales in China. 

According to Bertrand Lortholary, the French ambassador to China, "France's exports of luxury goods to China have doubled in the past three years, including perfumes, cosmetics, fashion accessories, leather goods, jewelry, and wines and spirits." 

"Since 2021, China has become the main market for French cosmetics exports worldwide," he added.

Chinese mainland to enhance policy support for Taiwan businesses in developing new quality productive forces

The Chinese mainland will enhance its policy support system to provide greater and more targeted support to businesspeople and enterprises from the island of Taiwan in developing the new quality productive forces, Chen Binhua, spokesperson of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

Developing new quality productive forces is an inherent requirement and a key focus for promoting high-quality development. Taiwan businesses are bound to be participants, contributors and beneficiaries in this process, Chen said.

The mainland will maintain consistency and continuity in policy implementation, building a policy support system with greater strength and more targeted measures, Chen said, noting that this includes strengthening the leading role of technological innovation, optimizing factor allocation, and assisting Taiwan businesses in aligning with the direction of a modern industrial system's construction.

During the just-concluded two sessions, the development of new quality productive forces was included in the Government Work Report for the first time. It called for fully leveraging the leading role of innovation, and deeply cultivating and strengthening emerging industries.

By proactively planning for future industries and driving industrial innovation through technological innovation, it will create more opportunities to strengthen industrial cooperation across the Taiwan Straits, Chen noted.

The industries on both sides of the Taiwan Straits complement each other's strengths, Chen said, adding that Taiwan enterprises have technical advantages in advanced manufacturing, new materials and biomedicine. They have a solid foundation in big data and artificial intelligence, as well as extensive experience in modern agriculture and modern services.

Taiwan businesses should seize the opportunities in developing new quality productive forces, actively plan for future industries, participate in the innovative development of the digital economy, benefit from the mainland's rural revitalization policies, and actively contribute to the integrated development across the Taiwan Straits, Chen said.

"Promoting the integrated development across the Taiwan Straits is a long-standing and consistent policy of the mainland," Wang Jianmin, a senior cross-Straits expert at Minnan Normal University in Fujian, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The mainland's economic development holds numerous business opportunities for Taiwan businesses. Despite certain interference from within the island and by external forces, the overall trend of cross-Straits integrated development will not change, Wang said, adding that Taiwan businesses are highly sensitive to opportunities and are expected to proactively seize the chances.

Additionally, the mainland, especially its coastal provinces, has provided significant policy support for Taiwan residents seeking to study and work in the mainland. There is a clear trend of more youth from the island coming to the mainland for employment and entrepreneurship, Wang said.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Commerce, from January to November 2023, the mainland approved 6,936 new Taiwan-funded projects, up 26.8 percent year-on-year, with actual use of capital from the Taiwan island amounting to $2.69 billion, an increase of 39.9 percent year-on-year.

The mainland economy remains promising despite external uncertainties, with a continued focus on consolidating the long-term positive trend. It will provide broader opportunities for Taiwan compatriots and enterprises to deepen their roots and participate in high-quality development on the mainland, Chen said.