‘Chinese people are hospitable; so are we,’American Gen Zers recall journey in China, appeal for common ground and enduring friendship

Editor's Note:

The youth are the vanguards of our time, showcasing boundless energy and vibrant personalities.

Gen-Zers not only represent the makers of the future but also serve as agents of change in the present. With an open mindset and an international outlook, they actively integrate into the currents of globalization, engaging in deep exchanges, and collaborating with youth from around the world to explore pathways and strategies to address global challenges.

The Global Times has launched the "Voice from Gen Z" series, which focuses on the proactive actions and innovative achievements of young people in areas such as global governance, cultural exchange, environmental protection, and technological innovation. Through this column, we aim to showcase the unique charm and future leadership of global Gen-Zers.

"The youth of China and the US should continue to build strong friendships, improving their understanding of each other, and their countries. This will help lead citizens around the world to interact and communicate with each other." This sentiment was solemnly shared by 17-year-old Colin Millage from Muscatine High School from the US state of Iowa, as he returned to the country after an 8-day study tour in China in late April.

The study tour delegation is called "Inheritance of Friendship," which is part of a China-initiated program that invites 50,000 US youth to China within five years for exchanges and study. The delegation is the second batch from the school.

With all 32 members of Generation Z who came to China for the first time, they embarked on the journey with curiosity about China and a desire to fully embrace the country and its people. Touched by the sincere interactions between the people of China and the US, they are committed to carrying forward friendship in their own way.

Millage believes that their trip can serve as an example to young people, showing that friendships between countries can lead the world in the right direction toward peace and stability.

"We are the future. It's important for the youth all over the world to connect for a better future. I expect there will be many more exchanges between the two countries," Millage's fellow Skye Foster, a 10th-grade student, also shared with the Global Times.

'Beautiful first impression'

With the dazzling light effects, innovative stage design and imaginative program arrangement, the welcome performance titled "Chinese Impressions" by students from Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School on the evening of April 19 in Shijiazhuang, North China's Hebei Province, left a lasting impression on Millage.

"It gave me a beautiful first impression," Millage said, referring to the exquisite performance of his Chinese peers and the profound Chinese culture embedded in the program.

American Gen Zers are always eager to experience different cultures. For example, Foster noted she chose to participate in the school trip to China because she loved learning Chinese.

During the journey, the delegation visited Beijing, Hebei, and Shanghai. They wore traditional Hanfu, climbed the Great Wall, visited the Forbidden City, and explored the Xiong'an New Area. They tasted traditional local cuisine, learned to pay for services using mobile phone QR codes, experiencing a real, comprehensive China that blends the classical and the modern.

In Millage's opinion, China is a country filled with deep culture and history. From the intricate architecture to the meaningful cultural practices, the country beautifully presents itself with an influential cultural identity.

"China is a very big country. There is so much to learn about China. There's so much to see and I had a great experience there," Foster said.

"Sending the second study tour delegation to China in such a short period of time shows how successful the first group's trip to China was," Ryan Scott Castle, principal of Muscatine High School, told the Global Times. He mentioned that many students who had previously visited China signed up again for the second research group and he had to use his authority as principal to "keep them in the US" because more and more students from Muscatine are eager to explore China.

"Before departure, I told the kids: As soon as the plane lands, put away your phones, absorb like a sponge, breathe in the air of China, enjoy the food of China, seize every opportunity to communicate with the people around you… Since you are in China, embrace it with your whole heart," said Luca Berrone, Chairman of the Muscatine-China Initiatives Committee, who accompanied the delegation to China.

To Berrone's relief, the teenagers did just that. Millage said he would tell all his family and friends that China should be their next vacation.

Millage noted that some media sources in the US made China out to be restrictive on some level, but he thought that mainly stems from the US' superiority complex about being "the most free country" when most other countries are also free.

"After being in China, I completely disagree with any portrayal of the country being restrictive… While some Americans may be cautious when visiting the country due to negatively preconceived notions, they should look past that and appreciate the beauty the country can offer," he stressed.

Exemplary tales of exchanges
Hebei Province and the Iowa State signed their sister-state relationship in 1983. For over 40 years, Hebei and Iowa have written many exemplary tales of friendly exchanges.

In the spring of 1985, Chinese President Xi Jinping, at that time a county leader in Zhengding, Hebei Province, took his initial steps on US soil. From then on, Xi never forgot his American friends and believes that people hold the key to state-to-state relations.

Now, this friendship is being further strengthened with new initiatives.

For Foster, her most memorable experience in China was going to her Chinese partner's home and spending more time with her.

As the host school for the US students, the Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School requested students from China and the US to form one-on-one friendly partnerships. They studied Chinese poetry, played table tennis, and each US student also visited the home of his or her Chinese partner and had dinner together.

"The teachers were very kind and caring. The students were so welcoming and nice," Foster said.

More importantly, these young people from China and the US have the opportunity to sit together and listen to their elders tell stories of the sincere interactions between the two countries throughout history.

Berrone, who was involved in Xi's first visit to the US, still remembered the first dinner that the Hebei delegation led by Xi had in Iowa, which was a traditional American "potluck dinner," at which each family brought a dish to share.

The delegation immediately blended in with the local residents, Berrone recalled. "Meeting for the first time, local residents were also very excited and attracted to them, wanting to know more about Hebei and China," he said.

American Gen Zers also value the ties of friendship; they were encouraged by the stories of the elderly generation. "They taught me to cherish these bonds, especially cherish those with Chinese partners that span thousands of miles," Millage said. "American and Chinese people speak different languages and have different cultures, however, Chinese people are hospitable, and so are we."

During his trip to China, Millage and his friends exchanged their ideals and looked forward to becoming closer friends, growing together to become better individuals.

"Ultimately, both countries should look toward to these similarities to find common ground and build a stronger relationship," he said.

US limits on tax credits for EVs targeting China and ‘overcapacity’ hype reflect protectionism, unease with China's new-energy advantage

The US released a final rule on Friday stating that electric vehicles (EVs) using materials from China will not be eligible for tax credits, amid its attacks on China's EV industry with so-called "overcapacity" rhetoric. 

Chinese experts said the limited access to tax credits targeting China, as well as the hype about China's "overcapacity," showed stepped-up trade protectionism and revealed US uneasiness about China's growing advantage in the global EV market.

The US Treasury Department announced final regulations for the credits under the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. Americans buying EVs will no longer be able to claim federal tax credits of up to $7,500 if their cars contain Chinese materials, The Washington Post reported.

China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said in December that China's EVs and auto parts are welcome in the global market, and excluding Chinese firms from these tax credits is a typical non-market-oriented policy.

The discriminatory subsidy policy violates the basic principles of the WTO, seriously disrupts international trade and investment, and undermines the stability of global industry and supply chains, the MOFCOM said.

Unlike the draft version in December, the final regulations allow carmakers to continue purchasing Chinese graphite until 2027 and still qualify for subsidies. According to US media reports, major manufacturers warned that without this extension, every EV on the market would be ineligible for the credit. 

It indicates that the US has reached a deadlock in accelerating the energy transition and facing the consequences of forcing out the Chinese supply chains, experts said.

The Washington Post said that if the Biden administration moves too quickly to choke off Chinese supplies, it could miss its target for half of new cars to be zero-emission by 2030.

The Biden administration has been aggressively smearing Chinese EVs, hyping "overcapacity" in China's new-energy industry.

Chinese experts argued that the US claims are merely a guise for trade protectionism, reflecting its growing worry about China's advantage in the global market for new-energy products.

The difficulties and challenges that US car companies face are evident. In the first quarter, EV sales only grew by 3.3 percent to nearly 270,000, accounting for only 7.15 percent of total vehicle sales. 

The so-called overcapacity rhetoric is a desperate attempt to suppress Chinese EVs in the global market, where the US cannot compete with China's high-quality and low-cost products, Qiu Wenxu, a research fellow with the Silk Road Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Saturday. 

"The US can only try to hinder China's EV development through its usual trade suppression tactics. However, history tells us that trade protectionism has never been able to stop the globalization of goods, and will only increase the cost for consumers," Qiu said.

China's advantage in the new-energy sector has been built through continuous technological research and innovation, a complete industrial chain and mature manufacturing capabilities, Liu Chunsheng, a professor at the Central University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times on Saturday. 

According to the International Energy Agency, global demand for EVs will significantly increase and China, as the world's largest EV market, is expanding its production capacity based on reasonable expectations, Liu added.

In contrast to US' protectionist moves, China has taken steps to remove restrictions on foreign investment in the manufacturing sector. 

A Chinese industry association recently released a list of 76 models of intelligent connected vehicles that meet the country's auto data security requirements, including those from Tesla. This development is seen as a positive step for Tesla's self-driving technology in the Chinese market.

Despite the "overcapacity" hype by some US officials, the recent visit of Tesla CEO Elon Musk to China and Tesla's development in China have offered successful examples of China-US economic and trade cooperation.

Experts said that it is crucial for the US government to rectify its discriminatory industrial policies to safeguard the stability of the global EV industry chain and uphold global climate change efforts.

Deepening China-EU cooperation significant for world in navigating uncertainties

China, the second-largest economy, and the EU, the largest trading bloc, have formed a strong foundation for economic and trade cooperation thanks to the intrinsic complementarity of the two economies. 

The practical and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Europe can help both leverage their economic strengths and fully unleash their economic growth potential, which will generate positive momentum for the global economy.

China and Europe have great complementarity in a wide range of industrial categories. Due to China's strong production capacity and lower labor cost, it exports a significant amount of essential and intermediate goods to Europe each year, with bilateral trade between China and the EU hitting $783 billion in 2023.

China and Europe are becoming more intertwined in nurturing important industrial chains, especially in sectors including automobile manufacturing and new-energy production. The synergy between the two economies is evident in these fields.

The complementarity could also be seen in traditional industries, with each economy having unique advantages. China is increasing imports of European agricultural products due to rising Chinese demand, resulting from increased spending power across the country.

Many China-Europe joint ventures are manufacturing products that not only cater to the demands of Chinese and European markets, but they are also exported to third-party markets. This synergy is evident throughout their shared industrial chains. 

To further enhance economic and trade cooperation between China and Europe, it is essential to focus on practical cooperation. Politicizing economic issues disrupts economic and trade cooperation, while imposing trade restrictions will hurt normal production activities.

Cooperation between China and Europe should start from the needs of both sides and take into account the construction of the entire industrial chain. The integration of the industrial chains of China and Europe is conducive to sustained development of both economies. 

China and Europe also need to actively promote third-party cooperation, which will further complement the advantages of both sides, and integrate their respective strengths to explore a broader market.

Cooperation in the traditional fields needs to be continuously upgraded to adapt to the changing technological landscape and market demands. Opportunities between China and France in the fields of nuclear energy and aviation are good examples of this. In areas that meet the development needs of both economies, such as green technology, the alignment of policies between the two sides should be better coordinated and implemented. 

Increased cooperation between China and Europe has the potential to enhance economic and trade prospects for both. This collaboration could encompass various sectors such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, digital economy, big data, quantum computing and other fields.

The combined share of China and Europe in the world economy comes in at more than 40 percent. If both sides can avoid the trap of politicizing economic issues and continue to cooperate and open up in a mutually beneficial way, it will have a positive impact on maintaining the current trend of globalization.

China and Europe, in terms of industrial cooperation and free trade, can deepen their cooperation to provide a good example for the world. Currently, certain countries are putting their own interests before others, by taking protectionist approaches in global trade. 

Whether it is anti-globalization or protectionism, it should not be allowed to develop into a trend, because once it becomes a trend, it will force different economies to take similar approaches. Therefore, for China and Europe, it is necessary to uphold free trade and open economy, because only by sticking to this direction can the two sides better respond to the impact of anti-globalization and protectionism.

And, through enhancing third party cooperation between China and Europe, the two sides can help improve economies and market conditions outside of China and Europe. This collaboration can help in better achieving the United Nations' sustainable development goals, such as poverty alleviation and creating new jobs.

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

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 data.ai, 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.

China sets eyes on fostering new quality productive forces to accelerate growth

At the ongoing two sessions, the development of new quality productive forces and digital economy are the hot topics. 

Seven years ago, the Government work report first proposed "speeding up the development of the digital economy." Since then, the digital economy has become an important engine for China's green transformation and a new driver of economic growth. In September last year, new quality productive forces theory was initiated to promote China's high-quality development.

For a long time, the definition of productivity has been the ability of humans to conquer and transform nature. The massive gains in productivity caused by Industrial Revolution led to huge resource consumption and waste emissions, resulting in multiple global problems. Therefore, it is necessary to redefine the connotation of productivity to ensure human sustainability and the coexistence of humanity and the nature.

New quality productive forces are the ability of humans to adapt to and utilize nature, a capacity that follows the principles of symbiosis and harmony between humans and nature, continuously advancing civilization and enhancing public welfare. New quality productive forces emphasize the reliance on scientific breakthroughs and technological innovations to achieve resource recycling and conservation, optimize resource management, and effectively promote the development of productivity in the process of transitioning to the ecological civilization.

From a theoretical perspective in viewing productivity, the development of new quality productive forces must involve cultivating new quality laborers and developing new quality ecological, digital, and industrial productivity to imbue labor materials with new quality connotations. In the current green transformation, through the application of technological innovations, transforming and upgrading traditional industries, and promoting the integration of the digital economy and the real economy to create digital industrial clusters.

The world is experiencing a wave of technological revolution and a new industrial revolution, with emerging information technology and digital transformation reshaping the economic landscape. It has become a consensus to promote the development of new quality productive forces through technological innovation. Undoubtedly, the digital economy has become the "fulcrum" for developing new quality productive forces, and it is also the core content of the development of new quality productive forces.

The digital economy uses data as means of production, modern information networks and intelligent algorithm as labor tools, digital industrialization as the foundation for development, and industrial digitalization as application scenarios to promote a new economic form that facilitates long-term sustainable development. The rise of the digital economy can lead to the restructuring of production factors, the reshaping of the geopolitical economic structure, and the reconstruction of the global geopolitical landscape, profoundly changing the way humans live and develop.

A report from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology revealed that the scale of China's digital economy is likely to reach 70.8 trillion yuan ($9.8 trillion) in 2025. With the rapid advancement of digital technology, the continuous expansion of the integration of digital reality, and the acceleration of the integration of digital intelligence, the digital economy will become a new driving force for economic growth and a core element in the cultivation of new quality productive forces.

Innovation, green development and intelligence are the most significant characteristics of the digital economy. 

The digital economy is an innovative economy. The resources allocated by the digital economy are more concentrated on knowledge and technological innovation. The scope of innovation subjects has diversified. The digital economy is a green economy. Scientific development and the specific application of technology are increasingly shifting toward ecologicalization. The digital economy is an intelligent economy, where algorithm proves to be the key. Through algorithms and AI, the digital economy allocates resources and driving the development of an intelligent economy.

The digital economy provides us with a fulcrum and entry point for developing new quality productive forces. As the contemporary primary productive force and green productive force, new quality productive forces are indispensable to usher in robust future development. By promoting the development of the digital economy, we can drive climate governance, ecological protection, economic development, cultural prosperity, technological innovation, and social harmony.

For the government, it is essential to develop efficient and collaborative digital governance, formulate policies to support the high-quality development of the digital economy, and establish a fair and standardized digital governance ecosystem. The government should help build smart cities and digital villages, nurturing new business models, and injecting great vitality into the economy.

Guangdong tops Chinese provinces in private sector size, favorable business environment

As an important powerhouse of China's economy, Guangdong Province has achieved a new milestone in 2023 by leading the nation in the total number of business entities, enterprises, foreign-invested enterprises, and private-owned companies. 

The achievement is attributed to various factors, including the province's favorable business environment, experts said.

In 2023, the total number of registered business entities in Guangdong reached a staggering 18 million, representing a 10th of the country's total. The figure marked a significant increase of 1.7 million, or 10.6 percent growth from the previous year, making it the highest growth rate in the past five years, according to Guangdong Administration for Market Regulation.

The province also boasts the largest number of all types of enterprises in China. It is home to 7.8 million enterprises, accounting for one-seventh of the nation's total, which includes some 7.2 million private enterprises,

After the issuance of the guidelines on boosting the growth of private economy on July 19, 2023, Guangdong launched a series of measures to respond to the problems that private businesses face, and it focused on promoting fair market competition and protecting the legitimate interests of private businesses and entrepreneurs, Zhou Rong, a senior researcher at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

For private enterprises of different sizes, including individual businesses, Guangdong Province responded to their problems in a targeted manner, published guidelines and solutions covering all industrial sectors to help private enterprises tackle their problems related with their business development, Zhou said.

Guangdong is also one of the most preferred destinations for foreign investors. In 2023, 21,000 newly foreign-invested enterprises were set up in the province, making Guangdong home to over 199,000 foreign-invested enterprises, accounting for a quarter of the nation's total. 

Guangdong has also taken measures to optimize the business environment in the Greater Bay Area, creating a favorable investment environment for all overseas investors, Zhou said.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong and Macao-invested business entities in Guangdong Province amounted to 96,000 in 2023, up 15.5 percent year-on-year. Notably, over 8,000 entities were registered in 2023, rising 64.4 percent over 2022.

The success of Guangdong Province in attracting Hong Kong and Macao businesses is mainly attributed to the vigorous efforts made by the province in providing the best services. Measures were taken to optimize business environment in the Greater Bay Area, especially in promoting the linkage between the markets of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, Zhou noted.

The province is deepening reform of business registration system, implementing universal registration in the Greater Bay Area, and pushing electronic notarial instruments for Hong Kong investors, so as to realize full electronic registration of Hong Kong-invested enterprises, and facilitate investment and development of businesses in the Greater Bay Area, cctv.com reported.

Shanghai takes major steps to support online economy with eye on advanced tech

The Shanghai Municipal Government has taken major steps to support the online economy, pledging various forms of support including funds, with a focus on advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain.
Since January 1, 2024, a total of 20 measures have been implemented to boost the online new economy in a range of areas, according to a notice from the Shanghai Municipal Government that was released on Thursday. 
The city vowed to support the listing of online companies that are in line with national strategies, that have made breakthroughs in key core technologies, and have high market recognition. Qualified red chip online companies are also being encouraged to return to the domestic capital market, and platform companies will be supported in listing both in China and overseas. 
The notice also vowed to encourage high-quality online new economy enterprises to participate in the construction of the city's AI computing power center and to work jointly to build a multi-level commercial intelligent computing power cluster in the city. Also, the city will support companies in areas such as Web 3.0.
Shanghai will also accelerate the construction of urban blockchain infrastructure and improve AI large model innovation capabilities. It will support online new economy enterprises to build large models with international competitiveness, encourage the formation of a data flywheel, accelerate model iteration, and provide special rewards to enterprises that have achieved significant results in accordance with regulations.
Notably, the city pledged up to 50 million yuan for projects that are in line with the nation’s and Shanghai’s key strategic and public welfare goals.
Shanghai’s latest support measures come amid an increasing focus in China on boosting sci-tech innovation, supporting the private sector and promoting high-quality development. 

Chinese mainland travelers to Hong Kong airport will be exempted from entry permits

Through the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB), Chinese mainland residents can take international flights directly from Hong Kong International Airports (HKIA) without entry permit. The new policy, set to take effect on Tuesday, will further facilitate international travel for travelers from the Chinese mainland and drive passenger growth at HKIA.

This policy aims to simplify foreign travel procedures for mainland travelers through HKIA, and take advantage of the airport's direct international flights.

The move is expected to increase mainland passenger traffic at HKIA and create demand and business opportunities for Zhuhai International Airport in South China's Guangdong Province. According to media reports, Zhuhai Airport operates flights to nearly 90 mainland destinations, while HKIA offers direct flights to nearly 200 international destinations.

Zhuhai Airport will also open a multimodal passenger terminal to provide shuttle bus service for passengers traveling to Hong Kong Airport for transit flights. Passengers will board buses at Zhuhai Airport and go directly to the Skypier Terminal of Hong Kong International Airport after completing exit procedures and collecting boarding passes at Zhuhai Highway port. 

Following the implementation of northbound travel for Hong Kong and Macao vehicles, allowing Chinese mainland travelers to travel via HKIA without entry permit will further integrate the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The action is also conducive to deepening business cooperation between airports in the area. 

The border control of HZMB has set up a designated inspection channel in Zhuhai highway port to differentiate ordinary travelers and travelers to HKIA for inspection, and to provide convenient and high-quality customs clearance services, Lin Meihong, a senior official of HZMB boarder control was quoted as saying.

This policy will further leverage the bridge's central role of connecting the Greater Bay Area and influencing the western part of Guangdong, helping to promote the formation of a world-class airport cluster in the area, Lin said. 

At this stage, Chinese mainland travelers to HKIA will need to check in and complete exit procedures at Zhuhai Highway porter, in the future, travelers traveling via HKIA are expected to be able to complete their flight procedures directly at Zhuhai Airport, according to news.cctv.com. 

HKIA is one of the busiest airports in South China. In the first 10 months of 2023, the airport's passenger traffic had reached 31.4 million, up 9.5 times compared to the same period last year, according to the Airport Authority Hong Kong. 

The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is accelerating integration and facilitating convenience for  local residents. On Sunday, the Digital Bay Area Development Forum in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province announced a new application which provides integrated transportation, payment and healthcare services to residents of the Greater Bay Area, it is now online on multiple platforms such as Alipay, Wechat, AlipayHK and MPay, according to Chinanews.com.cn. 

China releases first AI large language model for ancient book research

A college research team from East China’s Jiangsu Province has recently released China’s first large language model (LLM), a type of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm that uses deep learning techniques and massively big data sets to help conduct research on Chinese ancient books.  

The LLM for ancient books was designed to intelligently process ancient texts, promote innovative development in the research and preservation of Chinese ancient books, enhance the efficiency and quality of the inheritance of traditional Chinese culture, and facilitate deep integration between LLMs and the processing of ancient books.  

The LLM “Xunzi,” named after Xun Zi, one of the most famous philosophers in ancient China for his Confucian classic Xunzi, contains the vast majority of Chinese ancient books and documents including the collections of the “Complete Library in Four Sections” or “Siku Quanshu,” with a large-scale corpus of over 2 billion Chinese characters and words.  

The research on Chinese traditional classics is a painstaking and laborious work even for scholars and experts, let alone for average learners. Thus, translating ancient texts into modern Chinese is one of its most important functions, Wang Dongbo, professor from College of Information Management of Nanjing Agricultural University in Nanjing, Jiangsu, who led the research team told the Global Times. 

With the model, researchers can swiftly summarize the ancient texts and know about the themes of the ancient books. The model can also extract key information from the ancient texts, such as characters, events and places, to sort out the information with efficiency.  

Besides, the model can also automatically generate ancient poems that comply with grammar and prosody rules with the prompts the users give to it to provide inspiration for poetry lovers. It can also precisely translate ancient texts into modern Chinese to help researchers understand the original meaning and connotation of ancient texts. 

Led by Wang, the research team has been working in the area of digitization of ancient books and documents for a decade. Supported by the presence of the university’s strong computing power and based on the application scenarios provided by Zhonghua Book Company, the research team accomplished China’s first open-source LLM for ancient texts in AI.  

The LLM has been published on websites such as github.com and modelscope.cn as open-source software, allowing users to download and use it for free. 

“We trained Xunzi using big data built on ancient books which can be obtained for free on the internet just like the way OpenAI trained ChatGPT. Although we spent great effort, labor force and money into it, we still share it for free with the aim to encourage more people to study and pay attention to traditional Chinese culture,” Wang said.