Ghanaian rapper builds bridge between China and Africa via promoting Chinese-style songs

Editor's Note:

China's modernization has been an epic journey over past decades. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), China has become an attractive destination for many foreigners. Many such expats in the country have fulfilled their career aspirations, while some have found love and started families in China.

Why do they choose to live in China? How do expats in China view and interpret China's achievements and persistence as measured from various perspectives? The Global Times interviewed multiple international residents in China from all walks of life, some of whom have made tangible contributions to China's development, to learn about their understanding of the essence of Chinese culture, and gain an insight into how far China has advanced in its pursuit of development and rejuvenation over the last decade.
If it were not for appearance, you would easily forget that you are talking to a foreigner.

The fluent Putonghua and the sophisticated understanding of Chinese culture and Chinese society make it more convincing when Forster Asare-Yeboah, a Ghanaian musician, said that he takes it as his career to help build a bridge of communication between China and the world via promoting Chinese-style music.

Dubbed one of the most famous foreigner on Chinese social media platforms, Asare-Yeboah has attracted millions of followers in China - more than 6.6 million as of March 11 on Douyin since 2017, for funny videos showing his daily life in Chengdu and videos of him singing songs infused with Chinese cultural elements.

He impressed Chinese audiences in 2019 when participating in The Rap of China, the first youth rap music reality show in China, with a chant combining English, Chinese, and the Sichuan dialect during the audition. He cooperated with a Chinese rapper later in the competition called Black&Yellow which is themed on the China-Africa friendship.

Before that, he had performed one of his most famous songs Welcome to Chengdu on several Chinese TV shows. A translation of the lyrics reads: "I have seen very many cities and landscapes, from New York to Brazil, [but] I only fell in love with Chengdu."

He, in fact, has never expected to settle down in China when he came to the country for the first time in 2008.

While studying at the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, a cultural hub in the country's Southwest Sichuan Province, he gradually fell in love with local culture - which, while being slow-paced, is open and comfortable - and realized that the way people see China from outside of China was very different from the reality on the ground.

This is the place Asare-Yeboah thinks he can do some work on.

Chengdu not only has excellent musicians, but also has an inclusive music creation environment. When I heard music made by musicians from Chengdu with its own characteristics and can be accepted by foreigners, I decided to make music in Chengdu, he told the Global Times.

"Maybe I'm doing music, but I'm not just talking about this industry. I feel like every kind of business outside and in China should work on communication because so many things can be done if they really come together to talk and share ideas, because present-day China is not the China from 30 years ago," Asare-Yeboah told the Global Times.

Now he is a rapper, musician, and producer, and has his own studio in Chengdu. He also has a new name: Li Kui, which comes from an ancient martial arts novel about China, to be easier accepted by his Chinese fan base.

As a rapper, he has created Chinese-style songs or remixed some popular ones and posted them on YouTube and Douyin to promote them to a larger audience.

A remix of the Chinese-style song Mang Chung with reworked lyrics combining Chinese and English posted three years ago on his YouTube account has been viewed nearly seven million times so far.

Comical skits and performance videos of him on Douyin have garnered nearly 90 million likes. A song he released in December 2022 containing Peking Opera elements and lyrics written in classic Chinese has gained more than 200,000 likes.

His selection of music video shoot locations also incorporates typical Chinese features or famous scenic spots in China as a strategy to further promote said locations to his audiences. For example, the music video to a song called 11:00, which was inspired by a quarrel between him and his wife before they got married, was filmed at the Qinghai Lake in Northwest China's Qinghai Province, which is China's largest inland salt lake.

As a producer, Asare-Yeboah is scouting for more Chinese talent for the music industry.
Nowadays Chinese youth not only understand the foreign market and foreign culture, but also know where they're from. Their music is really good but the biggest problem is the lack of communication, he said.

What Asare-Yeboah is doing now is to try his best, with the connections he has and the experience he has amassed, to find young, talented people and train them to put both cultures together to make something better.

Mostly what I want to do is to find a way to connect the Chinese and African entertainment markets. There are already Chinese people doing business in Africa, but entertainment is still a new market, he said.

There are 56 ethnic groups in China and each group has its unique culture and music. We also have our own culture and music in Africa. I want to combine them together and make great music in the future, he said.

Asare-Yeboah now has lived in China for about 15 years. He is married to a Chengdu local named Zhu Lan and the couple has a daughter who is about four years old.

He said the thing he likes most about Chinese culture is its central focus on family. "It's all about family because no matter what anybody does, the first thing they think about is the family. The biggest change in my life after I came to China is that every time when I think about doing something, I don't just think about myself. I think about the people around me; my wife, my kid, the people I work with, and the people I'm doing business with, because we move together move as a team."

One thing China has really taught me is not to be selfish. That's what I think in China has made me grow up to be a man, he said.

In recent years, Asare-Yeboah witnessed a comeback of Chinese traditional culture, including fashion, dance, and musical instruments, among young Chinese musicians.

His confidence in China and the Chinese musician market's development in the future is consequently growing.

"After all these years of living in Chengdu, I am of the opinion that music in China can be even better because Chengdu people never fail me in music. They always make me feel like Chinese music will always be there because there are always new upcoming artists ready to take Chinese music far beyond China," he said.

Chinese medical team in Morocco serves patients with professionalism and love for decades

After performing an emergency C-Section on a pregnant patient and hearing a cry from the delivered baby, Chinese doctor Zhang Qian breathes a sigh of relief. Despite risks posed by performing such a delicate surgery amid earthquake aftershocks, Zhang and her colleague Liu Yan went ahead, undaunted, determined to save the life of a patient with symptoms of abruptio placentae and her unborn child, just two hours after Morocco was rocked by an earthquake.

"The only thing I was afraid of at that time was an unexpected complication with the expectant mother and her baby," Liu told the Global Times.

Zhang and Liu are members of the Chinese medical team stationed in Morocco. China has been dispatching medical teams to Morocco since 1975 as sourced from the Chinese city of Shanghai. To date, a total of 1,944 medical staffers in 195 batches have offered medical services in public hospitals across the North African country, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The Chinese medical team in Morocco has made significant contributions to post-earthquake rescue efforts. Among its nine detachments, those stationed closer to the areas hardest hit by the earthquake, have been treating the injured, donating blood, and dispatching medical equipment to where needed, while those farther away have actively donated supplies, the Global Times learned.

The medical detachment located in Taza, some 400 kilometers away from the most-affected city of Marrakesh, quickly donated 20 kilograms of rice that they brought from China and 180 1.5-liter bottles of drinking water after the earthquake. Drinking water is one of the most essential supplies, said medical staffer Yu Yuejin, director of the detachment.

"We have been here for more than nine months, and have deep feelings for this place," Yu told the Global Times. "We are eager to offer our help."

'My responsibly'

Yu is an otolaryngologist from the Shanghai Seventh People's Hospital. In December 2022, as a member of the 195th batch of the Chinese medical team stationed in Morocco, Yu left Shanghai for Taza, a remote, dry, hot, and comparatively less developed mountainous city in northern Morocco.

In contrast to well-known Moroccan tourist cities such as Casablanca, Taza remains relatively obscure to the outside world. Yu said that it has poor medical infrastructure which is "similar to that of China in the 1980s and '90s."

"In ENT (ear-nose-throat) departments in China, now we perform thyroid surgeries with endoscopic surgical techniques and treat adenoidal hypertrophy with a nasal endoscopic system," she exampled. "But here in Taza, neck surgeries are usually done using traditional electric blades, electrocoagulation [electrotome], and surgical sutures and needles."

Therefore, to better help improve local medical conditions, China has regularly donated medical equipment to Morocco throughout the years apart from dispatching personnel here. Each year, the Chinese medical detachments in Morocco draw up a list of the medical supplies that local hospitals need most, and submit them to the Chinese health authority, according to Yu.

Yu recalled a surgical procedure she performed on a five-year-old Moroccan girl who had swallowed a coin with esophagoscopic equipment just received from China. Prior to that, similar patients with foreign bodies in their esophagi had to be transferred to a higher-level hospital 100 kilometers away for help, and the whole process would last as long as a week, causing patients a large amount of pain.

"Now with the esophagoscope, I can quickly perform a procedure after the patient has fasted for six hours," Yu told the Global Times.

Morocco's shortage of medical equipment has been largely improved thanks to the continuous donations from China. However, in earlier times, it was not unusual for the Chinese medical staffers to make up for the lack of manpower and equipment with their own ingenuity and dedication.

Sun Meifang is an obstetrician and gynecologist from the Shanghai Eighth People's Hospital. She was stationed in Morocco between 2001 and 2003, serving as the only obstetrician and gynecologist at Figuig Province's central hospital in that period of time.

Sun recalled that, on several occasions, she had to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to revive severely asphyxiated newborns, as the hospital lacked a complete set of neonatal resuscitation equipment.

In those moments, Sun said she would ignore the blood and other bodily fluids coating the infants' faces. "It was my responsibly [to save them,]" she told the Global Times. "I couldn't just stand there and let them lose their lives."
Professional spirits, caring hearts

Over the last 48 years, the Chinese medical team in Morocco has served 5.78 million patients and performed nearly 530,000 medical procedures, said Xinhua.

Through the decades, Chinese medical staffers in Morocco have impressed local patients and their medical peers not only with their exquisite skills, but also their professionalism and high standards of care.

During her work in Morocco, Sun placed the lives of her patients above her own. She once encountered a patient pregnant with twins who had suffered a possible uterine rupture, and the two fetuses were interlocked at the head. An urgent C-section became urgently necessary, but at that time Sun herself suddenly suffered atrial fibrillation.

To rescue the Moroccan woman and her two unborn babies, Sun performed the C-section after taking a large dose of cardiovascular drugs, risking her own life to save three. Throughout her two years in Morocco, Sun performed a total of 394 surgeries and rescued 1,149 patients. She was one of the 10 Chinese individuals and organizations to win the China-Africa Friendship Award in 2006.

The idea of trying their best to help patients is deeply rooted in the hearts of the Chinese medical team in Morocco.

In June, otolaryngologist Yu met a woman whose neck had developed a large pustule. The woman had received unsuccessful treatment for two months.

Yu smoothly excised the pustule, and helped change the patient's wound dressing each day after the surgery, a task that usually falls to the nurses.

The woman slowly recovered under Yu's great care. On the day of her discharge, she sent Yu a text message to express her gratitude.

"Allah sent you to [help] me," read one of the sentences in the message.
A 'golden name card'

This year marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of China-Morocco diplomatic relations. For decades, the Chinese medical team has been China's "golden name card" in Morocco, Yu told the Global Times.

She added that in Morocco, many Chinese medical staffers become friends with locals. They learn languages from each other, and share interesting things with each other.

In Taza, Yu, and her Chinese colleagues received a fresh gigot from Moroccan neighbors in this year's Eid al-Adha festival in June. The neighbors also shared figs with them during the ripening season.

There are few foreigners in Taza. Yu said that in the street, local people usually greet the Chinese people they encounter warmly, and call them "docteur (doctor)" no matter whether they are in white coats or not.

"And more often, they call us 'ami,'" Yu said with a smile. "This is the French word for 'friend.'"

Western media has ‘warned’ Vietnam on the pros and cons of Biden’s visit: Global Times editorial

The just concluded G20 Summit in New Delhi, marked by significant disagreements and low expectations, ultimately reached a joint declaration, reflecting the international community's shared desire for unity and cooperation in overcoming challenges, as well as setting aside some significant differences. However, US President Joe Biden's subsequent itinerary after leaving New Delhi has brought people back to the more complex and rough reality of international politics.

On Sunday, Biden arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam, beginning a short visit there, which has been buzzing news for some time and has attracted much attention. Since the normalization of US-Vietnam relations in 1995, every US president in office has visited Vietnam, which can be seen as a form of Washington's attention to Vietnam. However, never before has Washington's exploitation of Vietnam and lack of respect for Vietnam been so thoroughly exposed. Paying attention cannot be equated with paying respect. Attaching significance with ulterior motives is instrumentalizing the targeted country, which fundamentally disrespects the principle of equal and mutually beneficial relations. It is the Western media itself that pierced through this thin veil.

From the moment the news was released that Biden would be visiting Vietnam, numerous Western media outlets have been making noises for over half a month. However, all the reports and commentaries are "all the same." Some media outlets have explicitly stated in their headlines that "Biden heads to Vietnam in latest push to counter China." This is an unusual phenomenon in the clamorous Western public opinion arena, but it reveals the less glamorous truth about Biden's visit to Vietnam. This message brought about by Western public opinion unintentionally serves as a strong and lasting reminder to Vietnam.

First, Biden did not go to Vietnam for the sake of Vietnam. As Radio France Internationale put it, his diplomatic activities in Asia all revolve around one central theme - confronting the world's second-largest economy. Ultimately, it is still a matter of geopolitical maneuvering, treating Vietnam as a battleground for major powers. Washington's positioning of Vietnam is clear, as stated by Kurt Campbell, White House coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs, that Vietnam is a "swing state." In other words, in their view, Vietnam has more "instrumental value" for the US in countering China.

Second, what Biden wants to peddle to Vietnam is neither what Vietnam wants nor is it in line with Vietnam's national interests. As a scholar in the US said, "Washington was more keen to risk upsetting Beijing than Hanoi was." In other words, the US and Western media have been discussing it for so long, but no one has said anything about the actual benefits that Biden's visit will bring to Vietnam. To some extent, it is like a clever housewife who can't cook without rice. 

American and Western public opinion and Washington do not care about Vietnam's national interests. What they really care about is how to get Vietnam to "fall into the arms of the US." The title of an article in the Diplomat magazine is "Vietnam's Time to Choose." Even though American public opinion and Washington clearly know that Vietnam, like other Southeast Asian countries, is unwilling and has been trying its best to avoid choosing sides between China and the US, they still continue to push, pressure, induce and even coerce in this direction. This is the diplomatic practice of the US to coerce other independent and sovereign countries.

One of the biggest points of concerns of Biden's visit is whether the US-Vietnam relationship will be upgraded to a "comprehensive strategic partnership." According to the US media, this will give Washington an equal place with Beijing and Moscow in Hanoi's diplomatic relations. American public opinion generally believes that this will arouse China's vigilance. If the US doesn't have ulterior motives, why should it worry about China being unhappy or angry when the US develops bilateral relations with Vietnam? China doesn't interfere in other countries' diplomacy, and is happy to see other countries live in harmony and engage in mutually beneficial cooperation. However, if it conducts activities against China, it's impossible for China to sit still.

Not long ago, when General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong met with Liu Jianchao, Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, Trong said Vietnam views its relationship with China as a matter of top priority. It is understandable that Vietnam hopes to maintain a balance in its relations with China and the US, the two major powers. But what the US is doing now is tantamount to pulling the balance pole away from Vietnam, or blowing headwinds that will make Vietnam unable to maintain its balance. This indeed requires Vietnam to be particularly mindful.

We also notice that, according to local media reports, Vietnam asked the US to refrain from the use or threats of force and actions that go against international law which further complicate the situation, resolve disputes peacefully. This indicates that Hanoi is not willing to pull chestnut out of fire for Washington. It also shows that regional countries are well aware of the dangers posed by Washington and are vigilant.

Pragmatic ties require collaboration, dialogue and mutual learning

Editor's Note:
Europeans and British people need to be better educated about China, Kerry Brown, professor of Chinese Studies and director of the Lau China Institute at King's College, London, told Global Times reporters Sun Wei and Gu Di in an exclusive interview. "I hope British and Europeans can… at least having more respect for Chinese values, Chinese culture and Chinese identity," Brown said, adding that "we can have a discussion. But it's not about trying to engage with someone else to change them."

GT: How has China Through European Eyes: 800 Years of Cultural and Intellectual Encounter shaped perceptions in the UK and the West? In what ways has it enhanced the Western audience's understanding of Chinese culture?

Brown: It's essential to recognize the extensive historical connections between America, Europe, Britain and China. This book, alongside my upcoming work, delves into the lessons of the past for our present and future.

And we do have a lot of mutual knowledge. I hope this helps people understand our history better, so that we can have a bit more information about where we are today and where are we going to go in the future.

GT: Over the past three decades, you've extensively travelled across China and spearheaded numerous rural studies. With the upcoming release of China Incorporated: The Politics of a World Where China is Number One, you've noted a pervasive apprehension about China's rising prowess. What compelled you to cultivate a dialogue that's "less anxious and more constructive"?

Brown: I've been in and out of China a lot. In the last 30 years, I lived in China for six years, and I've visited China probably 100 times, and I've been to every province and every single autonomous region.

I last went to China at the end of 2019 and had a memorable and very good visit. I learned a great deal and look forward to going back, delving deeper into Chinese issues.
I think that Europeans and British people need to be better educated about China, and its important place with a significant history. I hope these books help people understand why China is important, why it matters and gain a better understanding about our shared history. We have a big shared history.

Especially now, China's economy and its political importance are prominent. There should be greater awareness of what China is and why it's crucial in our cultural and political lives. That's why I have done this. And I think it's really about public information, public education, but for the British people, obviously not for Chinese people. I get the impression that Chinese people are very knowledgeable about their history with Britain and Europe. On the whole, it's quite surprising how little Europeans might know about our shared history. I think one of the reasons for that is it's not very easy to access. This history is spread across many different books in many different places. I've really tried to put it all in one place to make it more accessible and easier to engage with.

GT: In the first chapter of China Incorporated, you assert that China is powerful, has evolved into a maritime force and its values diverge from Western perceptions. Why do you consider these three facets pivotal in today's conversations about China?

Brown: Obviously, China has a different view of the world, and it's not just the Chinese government. Many Chinese people also hold this perspective. They feel culturally distinct. Actually, I think they want to be better understood. Even if we are agreeing or disagreeing, I believe Chinese people want to be better understood, and that makes sense for sure. When you're having a dialogue, you do want to feel that the people are trying to understand you, even if they don't agree.

I got the sense that there wasn't so much said about what China and Europe, and China and Britain, were talking about. The tone of their dialogue and the way they were speaking to each other was not quite right. I sensed there was some sort of issue, and it wasn't just about what they were talking about; it was how they were talking.

I hope British and Europeans can do more about this by at least having more respect for Chinese values, Chinese culture and Chinese identity, even if we don't agree. This is not about agreeing. It's about at least trying to understand and acknowledge that others are different. We have to acknowledge that we can't change that. Then we can have a discussion.

But it's not about trying to engage with someone else to change them, to change who they are. It's really about engaging with someone else about ideas while accepting who they are.

GT: You highlight the undeniable unique intellectual and cultural history of the territories now forming the People's Republic of China. Why do you stress the impracticality of superimposing Western values onto China's distinct cultural backdrop?

Brown: I think China has accepted ideas from the outside world. Marxism, for instance, was originally from Europe, and many ideas of Chinese thinkers have engaged with thinkers from Europe and elsewhere. Economically, Americans and Chinese have accepted many of the ideas of capitalism. But, for Chinese people, there's a unique Chinese view of the world, and I think that always means there's a slight kind of transformation or change. The ideas will enter China, but they'll always be slightly adapted and changed according to national characteristics. That happens everywhere; Britain engages with ideas from America but changes them for the environment here.

So, I think we have to accept that with all of these ideas, there's always going to be adaptation and change. That's just a natural part of making them fit into particular environments where they are used.

In Britain, some people probably have a good understanding, while others don't. To me, it's important for British people to acknowledge when they don't understand. There's a rule that says people with the least knowledge have the strongest opinions. That's because you have to have a lot of knowledge to know you don't know. British people may often feel that they have a substantial amount of knowledge about China. 

GT: As we mark a decade of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), you've addressed some Western misconceptions in your latest book. In your estimation, what's the initiative's paramount contribution either to global economics or to nations along its path?

Brown: I believe it has raised awareness about the importance of engaging with China and how to approach such engagements thoughtfully. Especially for regions like Central Asia, the Middle East and Asia, there may be compelling reasons for economic engagement with China, whether in terms of investment or access to technology through initiatives like the BRI.

This provides a sort of platform or avenue. However, for Europeans, the connection might seem more distant. It's really about discerning the types of investments and modes of cooperation with China that promote harmony, rather than focusing on areas where there are clear disagreements. The BRI has been a significant learning process. I think it's still evolving, but it has afforded us a decade of getting to know each other better, understanding our respective strengths and weaknesses.

In Britain, for sure, there has been a noticeable shift. There have been more debates, particularly due to issues like those surrounding Hong Kong. The pandemic has, of course, introduced many challenges. The relationship between the US and China has also deteriorated, so there have been several negative factors. However, we are still working toward establishing a practical relationship with China. The government's stance is that it's a pragmatic relationship that requires ongoing collaboration, dialogue and mutual learning.

It's just that there are currently many dissenting voices in Britain, which may be receiving more attention than they warrant. As I often find, those who express the strongest opinions often possess the least understanding. They might continue to echo the same sentiments, only louder. In my view, they're not particularly relevant. 

GT: With two recent prime ministerial transitions in the UK and changing stances on China, are you disheartened by the evident shifts in bilateral ties?

Brown: I believe Britain needs to contemplate more deeply its objectives and what it can realistically achieve with China. While there are clear differences, there are also many common areas, and it's crucial that we acknowledge the need for realism. In Britain, there are often very critical voices regarding China, but our approach is generally pragmatic, but perhaps not as ideologically driven as in, say, Australia. 

Describing the UK's stance as more pragmatic is, I believe, an accurate characterization. As I mentioned, it should be a narrative of equality. The relationship should be one of respect, with a critical eye, but also conducted with courtesy. It should be guided by facts, a constant evaluation of what we have learned about each other in the past, and what we could come to understand in the future. In this way, I envision a dynamic relationship. 

GT: Prominent UK voices, including University College London(UCL)'s Michael Spence, emphasize the valuable contributions of Chinese students in the UK. With the recent cooling of UK-China scientific collaborations, what are your thoughts on these pragmatic perspectives within the cultural and academic spheres? Do you have specific recommendations to fortify UK-China cultural and academic exchanges, particularly given current economic dynamics?

Brown: Michael Spence is right in pointing out that there is a great number of Chinese students in Britain. We need to acknowledge that fact, along with the significant amount of economic and academic collaboration between the two countries. It's wrong to instill fear in people about engaging with China. Some individuals in Britain have made attempts to discourage British academics and others from dealing with China, portraying it as a major problem. However, for many areas, it's not a problem at all.

I think it's something we need to do, as there aren't significant security issues in most areas. There are, of course, some strong opinions in Britain from individuals who, as I often say, have the biggest opinions but know the least. They are trying to portray China as a major security threat.

In my view, security threats exist everywhere. While there are certainly areas where China poses challenges for Britain, and vice versa, we are well aware of those areas. However, there are also numerous areas where we need to collaborate and work together. Therefore, I believe a balanced relationship is better than a paranoid one.

GT: As an academic against the "decoupling" from China, how do you interpret the EU's recent designation of China as a "partner, competitor, and systemic rival," and the ensuing dialogues on "de-risking"?

Brown: I think it's a complex description. It's a rather intricate portrayal. I view it as a partnership. It is indeed a partnership. There will be areas where partnerships come more easily and other areas where it's tougher. However, I believe creating such a nuanced perspective is sometimes not very helpful. Britain, China, Europe and China have numerous trade, investment, technology, climate, environmental and other political relationships. They form a partnership, but it's a complex one.

Whether or not you need to categorize it into these three distinct aspects is more of an internal consideration for Europe. It's not necessarily the way you should frame your policy, so I wouldn't necessarily use that division. However, I understand that in implementing policy, you probably need to differentiate between areas that are more straightforward and those that are more challenging, and take note of that as you implement your policy.

Certainly, Europe's relations with China do influence the British relationship with China. Currently, because Britain is not part of the European Union, it has to take a different approach. I think this can sometimes be challenging. Dealing with China outside the European Union hasn't been easy for Britain because it's a much smaller entity. If we were still part of the European Union, I believe our policy toward China would probably be somewhat easier.

GT: With the UK's recent induction into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and considering past UK policies aligned with China's ascent, where do you foresee UK-China relations heading in the immediate future?

Brown: I don't think it'll ever be an easy relationship, but I think in the end, it will be about trade, investment and whether we are able to do more in those areas. Britain's trading relationship with China is big, but it could be much bigger. 

GT: During in meeting between Chinese top diplomat Wang Yi and Veteran US diplomat Henry Kissinger in Beijing in July, Wang said the US policies toward China require Kissinger-style diplomatic wisdom and Nixon-style political courage. Do you believe the UK requires a diplomatic personality to further bolster UK-China relations? 

Brown: No, I think the world only has space for one Henry Kissinger, and that's quite enough. We have a different relationship with China, and we don't want to mimic the Americans. We can cooperate with both America and China, but we can't replicate them.

I believe that Britons have a lot of knowledge about China, but we need to acquire even more. I hope my books are attempting to provide some insight. For Britain, we already have a narrative about China; we should strive to comprehend that narrative and learn from it.

GT: Despite China's consistent emphasis on its non-adversarial stance toward the US, why do you think there's a persistence of misperception in the West? How can we prevent the West from misconstruing China based on historical precedents of their own powers?

Brown: It won't be easy. It's going to be a tough process, but the reality is that America and China can't afford to have a direct confrontation. If they did, it would be a disaster for everyone.

However, I don't foresee them ever having an easy relationship. The challenge in the next few years will be how to manage it. How can Americans and Chinese work toward a relationship where disaster is avoided? Moreover, what role does the outside world play in this? It's all going to come down to management. I believe, and hope, that we will find a way to navigate it, but it won't be easy. This is going to be a tough period and the next 10 years are going to be a challenging transition.

GT: China's trajectory of development and resurgence is underpinned by its singular historical context. How do you interpret this "Chinese modernization," and what do you identify as its defining characteristics?

Brown: The challenges that China faced in modernizing were enormous. It has been successful in some areas, while in others, it has had to struggle. Chinese modernization has led to where we are today - a China with significant economic, military and political influence in the world. However, it is likely to face difficulties in defining its proper role. What is China? What kind of global role does it truly have? This is not very clear.

At present, some of this ambiguity may be due to the outside world's reluctance to assign China a certain role. Additionally, some of it may stem from China itself being hesitant to take on a more prominent global role.

I believe this is the most significant issue we will need to address. After all, China, in its current state, cannot simply be overlooked or marginalized. It demands recognition. The question then becomes, what kind of recognition and acknowledgment does it seek? This is a substantial matter that requires our attention.

Chinese sportswear brands shine at Hangzhou Asian Games opening via outfit sponsorship

Multiple Chinese sportswear brands including Li-Ning, 361° and Peak were seen during the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games opening ceremony, which was held on Saturday via sponsorship for foreign athletes' delegations, a step forward of the globalization of Chinese products and brands.

During the opening ceremony, the Global Times observed that the outfit of the Indonesian group was Li-Ning, and athletes from Lebanon chose Peak, while 361° sponsored the outfits of Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

According to China Sports Daily, the 19th Asian Games signed sponsorship contracts with 176 enterprises, and the revenue from various markets will exceed 4.6 billion yuan ($629.9 million). Large-scale international sports events now have become important stages for brands to promote themselves.

During the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, athletes from Slovenia wore outfits from Peak as they stepped on the podium, according to media reports. In addition, teams from Brazil, Belgium, Romania and Iceland also wore the brand.

China's trade community says US investment curbs jeopardize security and stability of global industrial chain

The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) has called on the US to respect the law of market economy and the principle of fair competition in a recent statement over Washington’s investment curbs targeting China, saying the move will jeopardize the normal business exchanges between the two countries and the security and stability of the global industrial supply chain.

US President Joe Biden signed an executive order on August 9, banning new US investment covering key technology sectors in China such as semiconductors and other microelectronics, quantum computers and certain artificial intelligence applications. Later in mid-August, the US Treasury Department provided an explanation of the specific legislative plans for the executive order and initiated a 45-day period for public comment, with the deadline for submitting comments arriving on September 28.

The China Chamber of International Commerce (CCOIC) has officially submitted comments on behalf of the Chinese business community to the US government, hoping that the US government will genuinely listen to rational voices and carefully consider the relevant rules, according to a CCPIT spokesperson through an official statement.

The US investment ban categorizes China as the only "country of concern" under this ban, designating the related industries as "specifically sensitive technological areas with significant national security implications." The regulations pertaining to restricted investment entities, restricted investment targets, and restricted transaction types are vague and overly broad, the spokesperson said.

The investment oversight applies “indiscriminately” to both civilian and military purposes, employing a one-size-fits-all approach, the spokesperson claimed, noting that this approach not only increases transaction risks and compliance costs but also introduces significant uncertainty. Furthermore, it will disrupt the industry chains that heavily rely on global division of labor and cooperation.

China is an indispensable part of the global industry chains in semiconductors, artificial intelligence, and quantum information technology. The restrictions will harm US companies in international competition, hinder technological progress, and ultimately undermine US interests, the spokesperson said.

The Chinese business community believes that open and free market access and equal and benign competition are the cornerstones of economic development. A free, fair international economic order and stable global division of labor and cooperation are in the common interest of the global business community,the trade body noted.

Win-win cooperation is the shared vision of the Chinese and American industrial sectors. The Chinese community is willing to strengthen exchanges and collaborate on development with industries from various countries, including the US, the spokesperson said.

In early August, the Chinese Foreign Ministry blasted the US' investment restrictions as "economic coercion" and "tech bullying," urging Washington to immediately withdraw its wrong decision while vowing to firmly safeguard the country's rights and interests.

China deplores and firmly rejects the US' investment restrictions targeting a number of high-tech industries in China and has lodged stern representations with the US side, the ministry said.

Tianjin University launches high-speed noninvasive BCI system with 216 targets

Tianjin University's neuroscience team has made a groundbreaking achievement by launching a high-speed brain-computer interface (BCI) with 216 targets during the 7th World Intelligence Congress 2023.

This cutting-edge device enables users to type at impressive speeds using their thoughts while wearing a compact BCI device and interacting with a virtual keyboard featuring 216 keys. The system also incorporates commonly used syllables in both Chinese and English spelling, offering seamless one-click switching between Chinese and English input methods, Global Times learned from the team.

BCI establishes a "dialogue" between the brain's electrical activity and an external device. It is categorized into invasive and noninvasive types, with the noninvasive variant, based on electroencephalography (EEG) signals, being safer, more convenient, efficient, and holding tremendous potential for commercial and industrial applications, according to the team.

The number of targets and commands is a key indicator of how well BCIs can decode the brain's intentions, Xu Minpeng, a professor from the neuroscience team at Tianjin University, told the Global Times.

Tianjin University's team has gained global prominence by developing the first high-speed BCI with over 200 targets.

At present, the team has built a domestic full-chain noninvasive BCI technology including chip, electrode, algorithm and system. Three core indicators, the EEG recognition accuracy, the number of targets and information transmission rate have reached the highest international level, according to the team.

Senj Wind Farm exemplifies BRI cooperation between Croatia, China: company manager

The Senj Wind Farm, a project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is an example of the mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation between Croatia and China, said Luci Veljacic, manager of the Grupa Company in southern Croatia, in a recent interview with Xinhua.

"For me and my company it was a great honor to be part of the Senj Wind Farm project," Veljacic said, adding that in July 2019, the Grupa Company was offered a contract for supervision and implementation of safety and health protection, fire protection and environmental protection during construction of the Senj Wind Farm project.

Despite numerous unfavourable conditions, including the extremely complex mountainous terrains, the COVID-19 pandemic, snow, strong winds and thunderstorms during the construction process, the Senj Wind Farm, undertaken by China's Norinco International Cooperation Ltd. (Norinco International), was completed on schedule and "without any worker injuries, deaths or incidents," Veljacic noted.

"During the construction, all legal regulations of Croatia and the European Union (EU) and all safety measures were observed to the maximum," Veljacic said.

The Grupa Company is one of the more than 70 contractors from across Croatia participating in the construction, and among the daily turnover of about 300 workers during the construction, more than half of them were from Croatia, Veljacic said, adding that most Croatian workers were from the local Lika-Senj County.

Moreover, participation in the project has made many Croatian companies gain extensive professional experience, which will certainly make them more competitive in the EU market, not just in Croatia, Veljacic said.

Veljacic hailed the "exceptional" cooperation with the Chinese side during the construction process.

"We had an exceptional cooperation, both professional and friendly, with all Chinese companies and workers at the Senj Wind Farm project," Veljacic said, noting that in spite of the language barrier, "we successfully communicated, negotiated, solved daily problems and performed work safely."

In addition, "We also found time to socialize during the project, getting to know the cultures of the two countries ... we talked about history, music, education, customs and the like," Veljacic added.

Veljacic was deeply impressed by the hard work and expertise of the Chinese workers during the construction process.

"During this project, Chinese workers performed the most demanding work and showed exceptional expertise, professionalism, endurance and technological progress," she said, adding that she and her company colleagues also received a lot of help from Chinese engineers who "were always ready to help with their professional knowledge and experience."

The Senj Wind Farm, located on the Adriatic coast of western Croatia and inaugurated in December 2021, produces about 530 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green electricity each year and reduces Croatia's carbon dioxide emissions by about 460,000 tonnes per year.

In the eyes of Veljacic, the Senj Wind Farm is a project valuable and important not only for the Lika-Senj County but also for the whole Croatia, as it can significantly contribute to the total annual production of electricity from clean and renewable sources, reduce electricity imports and further promote low-carbon development.

"With this project, Norinco International has become one of the largest investors in green energy and the green economy in Croatia ... The example of the Senj Wind Farm project, the joint successful cooperation of Chinese and Croatian workers and companies will certainly be further developed," Veljacic said.

These cyborg beetles walk the walk

Resistance may soon be futile. With machine implants worthy of a Star Trek villain, a new breed of beetle takes walking instructions from its human overlords.

Hirotaka Sato and his colleagues at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore inserted electrodes into flower beetles (Mecynorrhina torquata) to stimulate specific leg muscle groups. By altering the order of electrical zap sequences, the team was able to control a beetle’s gait. Changing the duration of the electrical signals also altered the insects’ speed and step length, Sato and colleagues report March 30 in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Scientists have already made cyborg insects that can fly, scuttle, and crawl, but controlling things like speed could allow biobots to do more complex tasks. Cyborg beetles and other insects provide a more energy efficient and easier-to-assemble alternative to plain old robots and double as a means to study insect locomotion, the researchers argue.

Wildfire shifts could dump more ice-melting soot in Arctic

Raging wildfires could burn away efforts to reduce Arctic-damaging soot emissions. Soot produced by burning fossil fuels and plants, also called black carbon, can cause respiratory diseases and greenhouse warming, and can accelerate the melting of ice.

Rising temperatures and changing weather patterns will shift where and how fiercely wildfires burn and spew soot, new simulations show. Outside of the tropics, fire seasons will last on average one to three months longer during the 2090s than they do currently, researchers report online April 8 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. Soot emissions from wildfires will as much as double in regions that border the Arctic and counteract projected reductions in soot from human activities, the researchers predict.
“Humankind would do well to proactively develop adequate land and fire management strategies to have at least some control on future wildfire emissions,” says study coauthor Andreas Veira, an earth system scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg.

Predicting the future of fires is difficult because many factors — from weather to vegetation — influence wildfires. Veira and colleagues strung together three different computer simulations that projected the impact of climate change on wildfires (SN Online: 7/15/15). The first predicted future changes in global vegetation, which fed into the second, a wildfire simulation called SPITFIRE. Finally, the researchers plugged their predicted fires into a climate simulation.

If carbon emissions aren’t cut, overall soot emissions from wildfires will stay fairly steady but shift in location. Outside of the tropics, wildfire soot emissions will increase 49 percent by the end of the century as fire seasons get longer, the researchers predict. In the tropics, changing land usage and fewer human-caused ignitions due to urbanization will help decrease emissions there by 37 percent.

A northward shift in wildfires will push more soot emissions toward the Arctic, the researchers warn. Fallen soot darkens ice and snow, accelerating melting (SN: 10/5/13, p. 26). A 2009 study estimated that soot was responsible for more than a third of Arctic warming between 1976 and 2007. The new simulations show that about 53 percent more soot will fall on the Arctic at the end of the century, even if humans cut their own soot emissions in half.

Many factors that could influence future wildfires remain uncertain, says atmospheric scientist Shane Murphy of the University of Wyoming in Laramie. “We shouldn’t take the absolute numbers to mean too much, just to inform us that there’s the potential for severe consequences.”