International cooperation boosts China's competitiveness in controlled nuclear fusion: political advisor

China is playing an increasingly important role in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project and it is due to the long-term attention and support of the country's industry and government to controlled nuclear fusion research, Duan Xuru, a senior expert on fusion who is also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, told the Global Times.
Especially through participation in the ITER project, the world's largest "artificial sun," the level of China's research in controlled nuclear fusion has been greatly improved, and the technological level has caught up and even surpassed those of other countries in some areas, said Duan, chief expert on fusion of the China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC).

The ITER is a tokamak that can generate large-scale nuclear fusion reactions, aiming to simulate the nuclear fusion process that generates light and heat like the sun. The experiment is jointly implemented by China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the US. China officially joined the plan in 2006. Since the implementation of the plan, China has always adhered to international commitments and contributed Chinese wisdom and strength to the smooth progress of the plan.

On February 29, the ITER organization signed a contract for assembling the vacuum chamber module with China Nuclear Power Engineering Co, Ltd of CNNC. This is the second time that China has undertaken the installation task of the ITER's core equipment, contributing wisdom and strength to the progress of this project, according to the CNNC.

The assembly of the vacuum chamber module is to integrate and assemble the main large components such as the toroidal field coils, vacuum chamber, and vacuum chamber thermal shield in the assembly hall, and then lift the whole assembly into the tokamak pit. Among them, the toroidal field coils provide a toroidal strong magnetic field for confining the plasma at temperatures of over a hundred million degrees, according to Duan.

Located in the central area of the device, the vacuum chamber supports the plasma confined by the magnetic field, providing the required high-purity environment for plasma formation and maintenance. The vacuum chamber thermal shield mainly provides thermal shielding for the superconducting magnets to ensure the stable operation of the low-temperature superconducting magnets. "The assembly of the vacuum chamber module is an important milestone for the ITER project, marking that the installation of the ITER main machine has entered the final sprint stage," Duan said.

China has undertaken the manufacturing tasks of 18 procurement packages of the ITER since 2008, involving core key components such as the magnet support system, magnet feeder system, power system, glow discharge cleaning system, gas injection system, and the first wall of the reactor core that can withstand extremely high temperatures.

"China's tokamak engineering construction and related physical experiments have entered the international forefront. The engineering technology and manufacturing processes of key components of fusion reactors have made key breakthroughs, and some technological levels are leading internationally. A group of enterprises, research institutions, and universities have cultivated talents in tokamak engineering construction, fusion reactor component manufacturing, and large-scale scientific project management, accumulating experience. China's international discourse power in the field of nuclear fusion research is increasing. In the fields of material production and large equipment manufacturing, China has gradually formed advantages in foreign countries, and these advantages will provide strong technical support for the high-level development of China's controlled fusion engineering technology," Duan said.

While participating in the development of ITER, China's independently constructed and operated new generation artificial sun China Circulation-3 has also continued to improve. In 2023, the device successfully achieved high-constraint operation mode under a plasma current of 1 million amperes and was opened to global scientists.

Asking about different roles of ITER and China Circulation-3, Duan explained that ITER is an experimental reactor, and its goal is to verify the scientific and engineering feasibility of fusion reactors under conditions where the fusion gain Q is greater than 10 within 400 seconds and greater than 5 within 3,000 seconds.

Meanwhile, China Circulation III is the largest and most powerful magnetic confinement nuclear fusion large scientific experimental device in China, aiming to provide preliminary verification and solutions for key scientific and technical issues of the experimental reactor, including core plasma operation, nuclear diagnostics, tritium engineering technology, divertor high heat load control, etc, serving as an important support for China's leapfrog development in fusion energy research and development, he said.

In the future, China Circulation III will strive for higher plasma operating parameters, gradually raise the comprehensive parameters of the fusion plasma core to the level of the core, create an internationally leading combustion plasma large scientific experimental platform, support China's deep participation in ITER experiments, better digest and absorb ITER research results, and lay the foundation for China's independent design, construction, and operation of fusion pilot engineering experimental reactors, Duan noted.

In Duan's view, climate change and energy security issues have become common challenges faced by the world. Considering this, nuclear fusion energy, as a future clean, safe, and efficient energy source, is of great significance for the sustainable development of human society.

Mastering the technology of controlled nuclear fusion means that people may have access to almost unlimited clean energy in the future, and the energy crisis may be completely resolved, Duan said.

But to realize the application of nuclear fusion energy, there are still some major scientific and technological challenges, mainly including the steady-state self-sustaining burning of deuterium-tritium fusion plasma, fusion reactor materials, and tritium self-sustaining, Duan said, stressing the importance of international cooperation to promote the innovation of nuclear fusion technology.

State Grid Changzhou Power Supply Company advances 'gas-to-electricity' transformation for catering industry

On May 17, on Jianban Road in Lijia town, Wujin district, Changzhou city, Jiangsu Province, the State Grid Changzhou Power Supply Company is working to support the "gas-to-electricity" transformation for the catering businesses along Old Street. The plan involves installing two distribution transformers to increase the power capacity by 800 kVA, meeting the electricity demands of 20 catering businesses.

Many street-side catering businesses in Changzhou rely on bottled liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The aging and frequent malfunctions of these steel cylinders pose significant safety issues. "Particularly for many small establishments, their kitchens lack natural ventilation, presenting fire safety risks. Replacing gas with electricity can reduce safety risks at the source," said Bian Mingcheng, Assistant Engineer of the Jintan District Fire and Rescue Brigade in Changzhou City.

The State Grid Changzhou Power Supply Company has introduced several measures to benefit the public, including streamlining the application process, funding the construction of external power line facilities, providing technical support for internal equipment upgrades, and offering new catering businesses assistance and agency services for safe electricity use. Additionally, efforts have been made to advocate for government policies and subsidies to expedite the replacement of bottled LPG and gas with pipeline natural gas and electricity in non-residential areas across the city, in line with local conditions.
"We are constructing supporting grid projects at a faster pace to meet the demand for the 'gas-to-electricity' transformation, while ensuring that low-voltage customers with power needs of 200 kW or less incur no costs for external connections. During on-site inspections, technicians can help catering businesses identify the power supply entity, calculate the necessary power capacity, and guide them through the relevant application processes," said Zhuang Yufeng, Deputy Director of the Marketing Service Center of the State Grid Changzhou Power Supply Company. To date, the company has assisted approximately 1,300 businesses in replacing gas with electricity, including 623 low-voltage capacity expansion requests, with each power capacity increasing on average threefold.

Upcoming industry investment event highlights new momentum for Central China's rise

Chinese officials announced on Tuesday that the six provinces in Central China will each host a targeted industry supply chain investment promotion event during the 13th Expo Central China, which will be held in Changsha, the capital of Central China's Hunan Province, from May 31 to June 2. Experts anticipate the event will inject new momentum for the region's rise.

The move marks the first innovative endeavor since the critical investment event's inception in 2006, adding to China's robust drive to build the region into favorable destinations for industrial transfers from coastal areas amid economic restructuring.

Vice Minister of Commerce Ling Ji introduced the key highlights of the upcoming event during a press conference on Tuesday, which include industrial chain investment promotion sessions led by central provinces, focusing on advanced manufacturing sectors such as modern petrochemicals, new materials, electronic information and new-energy vehicles, aiming to attract foreign investment.

The six localities are Hunan, Hubei and Henan in Central China, Anhui and Jiangxi in East China, and Shanxi in North China.

Experts believe that the innovative sessions will highlight collaborative endeavors across regions aimed at fostering integrated economic development and attracting external investors to strengthen ties with the global economy amid the country's pursuit of high-quality development and high-level opening-up.

The six central provinces so far have hosted a total of 55 state-level economic and technological development zones, serving as vital platforms for industrial transfer. In 2023, these zones achieved a regional GDP of nearly 3 trillion yuan ($414.65 billion), with total trade exceeding 1 trillion yuan and actual foreign investment reaching $2.4 billion, according to official data that Ling cited.

Ling also unveiled the ministry's forthcoming measures to accelerate the rise of Central China. Focus areas include strengthening foreign investment and trade, enhancing domestic trade circulation, and expediting the establishment of trade cooperation pilot zones and free trade zones, in a bid to elevate regional integration that is in line with the plan of high-quality development.

The plan aligns with China's ongoing push for the rise of the central region. China's leadership at a top-level symposium in March called for solid efforts to further energize the central region at a higher starting point, due to its pivotal role as important bases for grain production, energy and raw materials, modern equipment manufacturing and high-tech industries, and as a comprehensive transportation hub.

The central region holds strategic importance and is an ideal destination for industrial relocation from coastal areas due to its geographical, labor and infrastructure advantages. The phased industrial transfer plan will aid the country's high-quality development and help avoid industrial relocation to other countries, Tian Yun, a veteran economist based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"Central provinces such as Hunan and Hubei have unveiled plans to transition toward middle-to-high-end industries, positioning themselves as leaders in industrial upgrades," Tian added, noting that with the ramping-up of policy support from the central government, the region's economy will gain new development momentum.

During an investigation and research tour in Anhui on Friday, Chinese Premier Li Qiang called for greater efforts to foster emerging industries and future industries, make breakthroughs in core technologies in key areas, and create new engines for sustained economic growth, which experts said showed the central government's firm stance in promoting the rise of the region.

The region's industrial relocation and growth are pivotal for China's industrial chain security. The central provinces, with their solid manufacturing base and research capabilities, can serve as key nodes in China's industrial chain development, further promoting the country's industrial chain security and long-term sustainable development, Bian Yongzu, a senior industry research fellow and visiting scholar at Yale University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Bian stressed that amid the global green economy trend, China has made remarkable accomplishments in a series of high-tech sectors by cultivating leading enterprises and industrial zones, which "offer favorable conditions and set models for the central region's development in related fields."

The region is vigorously advancing its high-quality development driven by the new quality productive forces - a key focus of this year's expo. 

In 2023, the central region's combined GDP reached nearly 27 trillion yuan, more than one-fifth of the national total, highlighting its crucial role in the economy, according to official data.

Hunan's high-tech industry investment rose by 7.9 percent, with high-tech manufacturing's value added up by 14.7 percent and information services up 13.1 percent.

The initiative to promote the rise of the central region was initially introduced two decades ago. Over the past decades, the momentum of the central region's advance has been robust. Official data indicates that during China's 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20), the economy of the region grew at an average annual rate of 8.6 percent.

China, France to strengthen agricultural cooperation, pledging to open doors wider to each other

The Chinese and French heads of state have reaffirmed the vital role of the agricultural sector in the bilateral relationship, vowing that both countries will strengthen cooperation in various areas, including boosting certain French agricultural exports to China.

On Monday, the two countries issued a joint statement on agricultural exchanges and cooperation, covering a wide range of areas from agricultural education and scientific and technological innovation to exports. 

Notably, the two countries pledged to continue to actively explore ways to completely lift the export ban on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)-free beef products on the basis of ensuring safety, according to the joint statement. 

BSE is a transmissible and fatal neurodegenerative disease that affects cattle.

The joint statement also said that the two countries will work to expand French pork exports to China, and provide guarantees for market access and safety of poultry products. They will also work to expand cooperation in the wine industry, including jointly improving the development level of grapes and wine-making.

The agriculture and food industry has become an increasingly important highlight of China-France cooperation in recent years, which also focuses on aviation, aerospace, nuclear energy and green development. 

China has gradually expanded market access for a growing number of French agricultural produce. 

As of mid-2023, more than 200 types of French agricultural and food products, including aquatic products, dairy products, meat products, breeding livestock, breeding poultry, and fruits, were allowed to be exported to China, according to the Xinhua News Agency. In total, nearly 7,000 agricultural and food product production companies from France are currently registered in China.

Within the EU, France is the biggest source of agricultural imports for China, and is China's second largest partner in agricultural trading, according to China's General Administration of Customs.

HK’s weightlifting and powerlifting association makes another ‘verbal slip’ by referring HK and Taiwan as countries

Hong Kong's Weightlifting and Powerlifting Association issued an apology statement on Saturday as its chairwoman made another "verbal slip" by referring the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and China's Taiwan island as countries, and it submitted a report to the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China (SF&OC) on Saturday.

This was not the first time that the association made a "slip of the tongue', as its chairwoman called Hong Kong as a "small country" during an open event in March.

At the opening ceremony of the Asian Equipped Powerlifting Championship and the Asian University Cup on Monday, the association's chairwoman Josephine Ip Wing-yuk mentioned that the event, which featured competitors from the SAR and Chinese Taipei, had "lifters and officials from 13 countries," according to local media reports.

While a total of 16 countries and regions had registered to participate before the competition, in the end, only 13 countries and two regions attended.

During her speech, Ip noticed that the script did not match the actual number of participating teams and felt that the sentence was too long. She simplified the sentence to refer only to the 13 countries and mistakenly omitted the two regions, leading to a misunderstanding, which was a serious oversight.

"The association mentioned that it had submitted a report to the SF&OC, on Saturday to clarify the incident. It emphasized that Ip's speech did not imply that Hong Kong, China, and Chinese Taipei were one country and had no intention of promoting "Hong Kong independence."

The association deeply apologized to society and the public for the misunderstandings caused by the opening speech.

The HKSAR government said on Friday that the statement is grossly inconsistent with the fact that delegations from Hong Kong, China and Chinese Taipei participated as regional teams and was a suspected violation of the one-China principle.

The HKSAR government said it attaches great importance to the series of mistakes in various gravity made by the association and has requested the SF&OC to conduct an in-depth investigation and submit an effective plan of improvement, according to a statement published by the government.

In March, Ip described Hong Kong, in Cantonese, as a "relatively small country" when addressing the development of weightlifting and powerlifting sports during an open event. She also categorized the city as "small countries" like Australia, according to the media report.

And the association later issued a statement to apologize.

Political extremism or separatism should not hijack sportsmanship, Chu Kar-kin, a veteran current affairs commentator and deputy secretary-general of the Hong Kong Association for Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Such speech disgraces the HKSAR whether or not the message is conveyed with another purpose. Mixing up and labelling HKSAR and the island of Taiwan as countries or nations is a serious mistake and falls outside universal knowledge, Chu noted.

"If her actual motivation is proven, it is a malicious offence under Safeguarding National Security Ordinance and is punishable," the expert said, noting that making such so-called confusions twice in two months may not be a coincidence.

Investigations should be conducted by the police and the concerned parties should not deliver public speeches again until the case is concluded, Chu suggested.

Blinken faces difficult task ‘to stop bloodshed in Gaza’ with visit to Middle East

US State Secretary Antony Blinken arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, the first stop in a broader trip to the Middle East that aims to mediate between Israel and Hamas and stop the bloodshed in Gaza. The conflict has already brought huge domestic and external pressures to Washington, as pro-Palestine protests across major universities in Western countries are making Washington's policy of tolerating Israel's operations look increasingly unjustified and embarrassing.

Analysts said that the UN Security Council resolution for a ceasefire is being challenged, as Israel is still bombing Rafah, and if Blinken fails to make breakthrough, a brutal ground attack planned by Israel is very likely to happen and cause huge civilian casualties.

In Riyadh, Blinken is expected to meet senior Saudi leaders and also hold a wider meeting with counterparts from five Arab states - Qatar, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan - to discuss what governance of the Gaza Strip might look like after the Israel-Hamas war ends, according to a senior US State Department official, Reuters reported.

Blinken will also discuss with Saudi authorities efforts for a normalization accord between the kingdom and Israel, a deal that includes Washington giving Riyadh agreements on bilateral defense and security commitments as well as nuclear cooperation. In return for normalization, Arab states and Washington are pushing for Israel to agree to a pathway for Palestinian statehood, something Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected, Reuters reported.

Israel has regularly carried out airstrikes on Rafah since the start of the war and has threatened to send in ground troops, saying the city is "the last major Hamas stronghold" in the coastal enclave. Over a million Palestinians have sought refuge in the city on the Egyptian border. Members of the international community have urged Israel not to invade, fearing a humanitarian catastrophe, AP reported.

According to AP on Monday, Israeli airstrikes on the southern Gazan city of Rafah killed at least 22 people, including six women and five children, Palestinian health officials said. One of the children killed in the strikes overnight into Monday was just 5 days old.

Hundreds of bodies were found days ago buried deep in the ground at Nasser Hospital and Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said reports continued to emerge about the discovery of mass graves in Gaza, media reported. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said on Monday that "We are deeply shocked and strongly condemn the perpetrators of the atrocity. Vast swaths of Gaza are now left in rubble and over a million civilians are struggling in despair on the brink of death."

While answering a question about what role China has played in "the meeting between Hamas and Fatah in Beijing this day" reported by foreign media, Lin Jian that "China and Palestine share a traditional friendship. We support Palestinian factions in achieving reconciliation and increasing solidarity through dialogue and consultation. We will continue to work actively towards that end."

Wang Jin, an associate professor at the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies at Northwest University, told the Global Times on Monday that now the problem between Israel and Hamas is that they cannot reach agreement on an exchange of Israeli personnel detained by Hamas with an Israeli ceasefire, but if Blinken fails to make a breakthrough, the ground attack against Rafah is very likely.

Mei Hualong, an assistant professor at Peking University specializing in Middle East studies, told the Global Times on Monday that there is almost no mutual trust between Hamas and Israel, as Hamas believes that if they release all the detained Israeli personnel, Israel might break the ceasefire agreement and take military actions to try to eliminate Hamas in Rafah, despite the possibility of huge civilian casualties. 

The US agrees with Israel's objective that Hamas needs to be eradicated and cannot play a role in Gaza's future, Reuters reported, but Washington does not want Israel to re-occupy the Gaza Strip. Instead, it has been looking at a structure that will include a reformed Palestinian Authority with support from Arab states.

Chinese experts said this is why Hamas cannot trust the US as a mediator, and hopes for an effective mediation remain low, because the idea of "eradicating Hamas" and a "sustainable ceasefire" cannot coexist. The bloodshed in Gaza will continue as long as the US and Israel believe that they can eradicate

Giant panda pair Yunchuan and Xinbao bound for San Diego Zoo on 10-year cooperation project

China's National Forestry and Grassland Administration announced on Saturday that the China Wildlife Conservation Association has signed a giant panda conservation cooperation agreement with the San Diego Zoo in the US and will select a pair of giant pandas to be relocated to the San Diego Zoo to initiate a 10-year international cooperation project for giant panda conservation.

The Chinese side has selected giant pandas "Yunchuan" (male) and "Xinbao" (female), from the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, and has arranged experienced keepers and veterinarians to accompany the two pandas to the US, according to a release from the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.
The zoo is currently renovating and upgrading the giant panda facility to create a larger and more comfortable living environment for the pandas and has assembled a professional team with experience in giant panda care and management, daily care, and related research technologies, who have previously studied and exchanged experiences in China, to take care of the two pandas.

To ensure the health of the two giant pandas in the US, in March of this year, the China Wildlife Conservation Association organized experts to travel to the US and conduct in-depth discussions with the San Diego Zoo, providing technical guidance and exchanging experiences to clarify standards and requirements for giant panda care, living environments, and health care, said the release.

The San Diego Zoo is one of the top five zoos in the world. According to the agreement, both sides are actively advancing preparations related to the giant pandas' journey to the US.

China urges US to stop arming Taiwan after aid bill passed

China has condemned the US for its passing of a $95 billion aid package containing military assistance for the island of Taiwan, urging Washington to honor its commitment of not supporting "Taiwan independence" and to stop arming the island.

Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said at a press conference on Wednesday that the Taiwan question is purely an internal matter for China, and no outside interference will be tolerated.

The Taiwan-related content in the US congressional bill seriously violates the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques, and sends a wrong signal to the "Taiwan independence" separatist forces, Zhu said.

"We are firmly opposed to it. We urge the US side to honor its commitment of not supporting 'Taiwan independence' and to stop arming Taiwan in any way," Zhu stated.

The remarks came after the US Senate on Tuesday passed a package to provide billions in aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, sending the legislation to President Joe Biden's desk to be signed into law after six months of political battles over it, CNBC reported.

The final vote tally was 79-18, a rousing show of bipartisanship in an era of deep political divisions, according to the US media outlet.

The funding includes roughly $60 billion for Ukraine, $26 billion for Israel and $8 billion for Taiwan and Indo-Pacific security.

Chinese analysts said that in recent years, the US has been doing more than just providing weapons and equipment to the island.

The US has also been providing military training, intelligence sharing and technology, said Xin Qiang, a deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University.

Given that the US' assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and the Taiwan region has left the super power stretched thin, it is possible that in the next step, the US may assist Taiwan in producing its own weapons, Xin said.

That would definitely escalate tensions in the Taiwan Straits, analysts warned.

Xin predicted that the elected Taiwan regional leader Lai Ching-te is almost certain to continue the policy of the current regional leader Tsai Ing-wen by seeking secessionism with US support and adopting a strategy of using force to resist reunification.

The more intense the military security cooperation between the US and Taiwan island becomes, the more emboldened the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities will be, leading to more provocative pro-secessionist rhetoric and actions, further escalating tensions in cross-Straits relations, Xin warned.

Zhu said that most people in Taiwan want peace rather than war, development rather than decline, exchange rather than separation, and cooperation rather than confrontation. The DPP authorities in the island disregard public opinion, willingly acting as a pawn for external forces to use Taiwan to control the mainland, and are taking Taiwan toward a dangerous situation.

The DPP authorities have been warned that any attempts to "seek independence with arms" and "seek independence by relying on outsiders" are doomed to failure, according to the spokesperson.

She also expressed that she hopes that the majority of Taiwan compatriots fully understand the danger of the DPP authorities hooking up with external forces to seek "Taiwan independence," and called for joint work to promote peaceful development and integrated development of cross-Straits relations for compatriots on both sides.

Commenting on whether the Chinese mainland would launch countermeasures in response to the US bill, Xin said the mainland will definitely increase pressure on the US and the DPP authorities in various areas such as military, politics and the economy.

China, PNG to speed up cooperation

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi wrapped up his visit to Papua New Guinea (PNG) with a meeting with Prime Minister James Marape, confirming mutual interests of speeding up cooperation in broad fields, which analysts said will inject more vitality into the South Pacific region. 

"The mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries has been expanding and deepening, providing a steady stream of impetus for their respective development and revitalization... and in the process of PNG's development, China will be your most reliable partner," Wang told Marape on Sunday.

Chinese observers noted that the productive discussions between the two sides highlight the warmer ties between the island country and China. They cautioned against the US's attempts to stir discord between China and PNG, emphasizing that the tangible benefits derived from partnering with China in the region cannot be overlooked by local government and the people. 

The two countries have drawn up Belt and Road cooperation plans and established a working mechanism. Both sides need to implement them one by one and advance them in a timely manner to ensure that the results of the cooperation will be tangible as soon as possible and bring benefits to the PNG people, Wang said.

China is ready to maintain high-level exchanges with PNG and launch free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations as soon as possible, the Chinese foreign minister said.

For the PNG side, the Pacific island country's foreign minister said that PNG is committed to promoting the development of bilateral relations to achieve greater results. 

Bilateral cooperation has yielded great results and has very solid foundations, Chen Hong, executive director at the Asia Pacific Studies Center of East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Sunday, expressing his optimism toward finalizing the FTA agreement in the future. 

The signing of an FTA would be beneficial to both sides, increasing China's imports from the island country, ranging from agricultural products to iron structure and telecommunication products, and at the same time, boosting the PNG economy, Chen noted. "Though it is the largest country in the region, PNG's economy has been suffering from an unbalanced economic layout due to a long history of colonization. But in just years of cooperation with China, the actual changes in PNG is apparent." 

If an FTA agreement is reached, it is expected to drive and empower the economic development of the entire region, Chinese observers noted. 

Wang emphasized that China's assistance to Pacific island countries has always been free of political conditions and impositions, and China has never issued "blank checks."

However, Chinese cooperation and assistance with South Pacific island countries were hyped up by the US. Yu Lei, chief research fellow at the Research Center for Pacific Island Countries of Liaocheng University, told the Global Times that the primary reason for the unease among Western countries, led by the US, stems from the deepening and accelerated scope of cooperation between China and the regional countries, Yu noted.

For example, in the Solomon Islands election, the US and others continuously list infrastructure projects involving China's cooperation as creating a "debt trap" and "resource plundering." The US believes the significant foundational effects generated by the Belt and Road Initiative pose a serious threat to Western interests and political influence in this region.

Chen pointed that placing the Pacific family as a strategic anti-China bloc serves US' Indo-Pacific strategy. This might include using PNG as a military base to contain China. 

But Chinese observers underscored that sowing discord over cooperation between China and PNG has no foundation whatsoever and cannot deceive people in the region. "Cooperation between China and South Pacific island nations has brought tangible benefits to the region, benefits that any rational government and people would not ignore," Chen noted.

The South Pacific region should not become an arena of big power rivalry, and no country should treat the island countries as its "backyard," or engage in zero-sum competition and exclusive arrangements, Wang said in a meeting with PNG Foreign Minister Justin Tkachenko.