'We have each other in future plans,’ Chinese Gen Zers see bright prospect in China-US relations through bridged divide, enhanced trust

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.
Wang Jiaqi, a senior at the Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School in North China's Hebei Province, will never forget the moment when she and her American partner Christina said goodbye.

"We had already waved goodbye, but she ran up to me and hugged me before I got on the bus," Wang recalled.

The embrace before parting deeply touched Wang. "When saying goodbye, Christina firmly told me that our friendship can continue," Wang told the Global Times, noting that she and her American friend are staying in touch and sharing their daily lives frequently.

In late April, Wang and Christina, a student from Muscatine High School in the US state of Iowa, met in Beijing. Invited by the Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School, 32 students and eight teachers from Muscatine High School visited the school as part of their weeklong study tour to Beijing, Hebei, and Shanghai.

As the host of the study tour, the Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School recruited many student volunteers on campus to make the US youth feel at home. They paired up with the US students as partners, studying and living together during the tour.

After the school issued the call, many members of China's Generation Z eagerly signed up. They saw it as a great opportunity to challenge themselves and showcase their abilities, while also hoping to further develop and maintain friendships with the US youth.

True feeling in details

Wang and her classmate Zhang Xinyi regard these US youths as part of the group of Gen Z "friendly ambassadors." The delegation is a part of the program, which was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in November 2023, aiming to invite 50,000 young Americans to China over a period of five years for exchanges and study.

From January 24 to 30 this year, under the care of President Xi, over 20 students from the school came to Beijing, Hebei, and Shanghai as the first group of US high school students in the program for exchange visits. This was Wang and Zhang's first close contact with US youths.

"That unforgettable interaction further strengthened my determination to participate in this activity," Zhang told the Global Times.?

What excited Zhang and Wang was that during the recent study tour, they spent six days with their new American friends, the second batch from Muscatine High School. They visited famous sites in Beijing and Hebei such as the Forbidden City and Longxing Temple, and took classes of Chinese martial arts together.?

They even had the opportunity to invite their partners to their homes.?

"After a thorough cleaning, we studied authentic Hebei cuisine together," Wang said.

To her delight, her partner Christina loved the food and enjoyed the warm familial atmosphere. "China is great, and your home is so warm," Wang was told.?

At the dinner table, Wang found that contrary to the stereotype that Americans do not eat seafood or spicy food, she discovered that Christina was willing to try all types of dishes. "She was even particularly excited to see the Chinese toon, a common edible plant in China with a unique fragrance, and insisted on trying it." In Wang's eyes, her peers from the American Gen Z era are very enthusiastic and open, showing great curiosity about everything Chinese and are eager to explore different cultures.
Zhang had a similar experience. On the evening of April 21, Zhang welcomed her partner Brynn Ann Castle, an American girl about to start her collegiate life, into her home. In Zhang's bedroom, Minions and Woody dolls quickly helped the two young girls find more common topics.

After a brief ice breaker, Castle eagerly tried playing Zhang's Pipa, a traditional Chinese musical instrument. Later, they looked through Zhang's family photo album together and shared funny stories about their families, with endless topics to talk about.

During their conversation, Zhang mentioned that she could feel that Chinese teenagers are generally influenced by family and collective concepts, placing more emphasis on family and social responsibilities. US teens, on the other hand, tend to prioritize individual pursuits, and are better at expressing themselves and pursuing personal independence and freedom.

However, Zhang also believes that with the development of globalization, the differences between the two countries' teenagers are gradually narrowing. "We have a lot in common, such as both enjoying listening to music and eating desserts to relieve stress. I love Marvel movies, and my US friends also enjoy playing the game Honor of Kings," she said.

Facing these similarities and differences, Zhang believes that exchanges between young people from both countries and sharing their cultures, values, and lifestyles, they can turn misunderstandings into understanding, amplify common interests, and enhance friendship and trust.

In an interview with the Global Times, when asked about their views on current China-US relations, Wang and Zhang both expressed that what gives them clear hope for the future of bilateral relations is that they and their US friends have each other in their future plans.

Wang plans to meet up with Christina at Universal Studios in the US this summer. Zhang shared beautiful scenery photos from her trip to Sanya, South China's Hainan Province, on WeChat. They eagerly made plans to travel together next time.

"This is just a small step for now, but we have taken it together steadily. In the future, we will see more beautiful scenery together," Zhang told the Global Times.

Chinese provinces show stepped-up economic recovery in Q1; 8 out of 31 record GDP expansion above 6%

The Chinese economy has started off in an upbeat note, with most provinces across the country showing a stepped-up recovery trajectory in the first quarter of the year — fueled by robust industrial growth, a warm-up in external demand and new drives from the creation of new quality productive forces, relevant data showed.

As the first-quarter data are often deemed as a bellwether gauging the fundamentals of the economy, the solid opening bodes well for the country's whole-year economic development, observers said, while expecting economic heavyweight provinces to continue playing a leading role in buttressing the rebound.

Among the 31 Chinese provinces that have released their GDP growth in the first three months to date, eight provinces and municipalities of East China's Jiangsu, Shandong and Zhejiang provinces, Southwest China's Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality, Central China's Hubei Province, Northeast China's Jilin Province as well as Beijing recorded a GDP expansion above 6 percent. Jilin led the provincial GDP growth in the first quarter, with a growth rate of 6.5 percent year-on-year, followed by Jiangsu, at a rate of 6.2 percent.

China's eastern and southern regions, or economic heavyweight provinces, continue to play a pivotal role in driving the economy. The economic outputs of South China's Guangdong and East China's Jiangsu, dubbed as the country's manufacturing hubs, have hit over 3 trillion yuan ($414 billion) in the first quarter, while that of Shandong and Zhejiang exceeded 2 trillion yuan.

All these major economic provinces have shown a good momentum in the growth of high-tech manufacturing and new quality productive forces. For example, investment in advanced manufacturing and high-tech manufacturing in Guangdong rose by 22.4 percent and 33.3 percent, respectively. In Jiangsu, the value of high-tech industries output accounted for 50.2 percent of the industrial output, reaching 50 percent for the first time.

Observers said major economic provinces usually have a solid economic foundation, well-developed industrial chains, and strong economic power, thus they are playing significant roles in economic growth. As there are still many uncertainties that could weigh on the GDP growth for the whole year, these provinces, with greater economic resilience, should further give full play to their "pillar" and "stabilizer" roles looking ahead.

Analysts also suggested that major economic provinces can strengthen cooperation with surrounding areas to achieve resource sharing and complement each other's advantages, so as to jointly promote regional economic development.

A total of 17 provinces have reported a GDP gain either in line or surpass the national average of 5.3 percent, news website guancha.cn reported on Friday.

It is worth noting that most of China's central and western provinces have been in a catch-up to close development gaps with the eastern regions. In Chongqing, the manufacturing industries for electronic specialty materials and intelligent unmanned aerial vehicles both saw an added-value increase of over 80 percent, relevant data showed.

However, data from different provinces also underscored an imbalance in economic recovery, in particular a lag in consumption rebound, observers pointed out. They expect the sector to pick up expansion in the second quarter, especially with the launch of more supportive measures such as trade-in plans.

China signs AEO mutual recognition deals with Burundi, Iceland to boost trade

China has signed Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) mutual recognition agreements with Burundi and Iceland in Shenzhen city, South China's Guangdong Province, on Thursday to boost trade with the two countries.

The General Administration of Customs of China (GAC) has respectively signed arrangements for mutual recognition of AEO with Burundi and Iceland at the ongoing sixth World Customs Organization (WCO) Global AEO Conference in Shenzhen that kicked off on Wednesday, the state broadcaster  CCTV reported.

Afterward, AEO-certified companies from both countries will enjoy lower inspection rates, priority inspections, designated customs liaison officer services, and other favorable arrangements. 

China's AEO mutual recognition pact with Burundi is the third in Africa after Uganda and South Africa, bringing the total of BRI partner countries with signed AEO agreements to 36.

The AEO mutual recognition pact between China and Iceland also marks a significant advancement in customs collaboration between the two countries. With China standing as Iceland's largest trading partner in Asia, the deal will greatly bolster bilateral trade security, according to GAC. 

As of Thursday, the GAC has signed AEO mutual recognition agreements with 28 economies, covering 54 countries and regions.

Since the implementation of the AEO system from 2008, China has kept on promoting international mutual recognition of AEO, aimed at reducing clearance costs for enterprises and expediting bilateral commerce.

According to GAC, in April, China's imports and exports reached 3.64 trillion yuan ($566.9 billion), an increase of 8 percent year on year. The exports stood at 2.08 trillion yuan with a year-on-year growth of 5.1 percent, and imports surged 12.2 percent year-on-year to reach 1.56 trillion yuan.

AEO mutual recognition allows customs to recognize certified AEO enterprises for streamlined customs clearance, aiming to enhance cooperation between customs, businesses, and other government departments, with AEO certification acting as a global trade "green pass".

HKSAR CE's Policy Unit acts as a 'think tank of think tanks': unit chief

Editor's Note:

At the end of 2022, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government announced the establishment of the Chief Executive's Policy Unit (CEPU), drawing significant global attention. This unit is also considered to be the "think tank" behind the SAR Chief Executive's policy-making. Nearly one year later, Global Times reporters Chen Qingqing and Bai Yunyi (GT) talked with Stephen Wong Yuen-shan (Wong), the head of the CEPU, at the top floor of the west wing of the HKSAR Government Headquarters.

In an exclusive interview with the Global Times, Wong, who had just returned from research trips in Jiangmen and Zhongshan in South China's Guangdong Province, looked somewhat weary. He said that over the last year, he and his colleagues in the policy unit made frequent visits to the mainland for research and exchange purposes to better align the SAR's policies with the national strategies. They also delved into understanding Hong Kong's public sentiment, and political and social trends, seeking solutions to the city's deep-rooted issues. "Our position for the policy unit is to 'stand higher and look further ahead,'" Wong said, highlighting the important task of providing forward-looking, strategic, and long-term advice for the SAR's future development.
GT: Can you introduce the daily work carried out by you and your colleagues in the policy unit? How does the unit support decision-making for the chief executive and the SAR government?

Wong: The CEPU is an internal research institution serving the Chief Executive. Since its establishment at the end of 2022, our work can be summarized as focusing on "four directions" and fulfilling "one task." Currently, the policy unit consists of 47 members, divided into five teams based on these directions and the task.

The task involves coordinating the annual Policy Address of the Chief Executive. The Policy Address is an important task for the SAR government, and we are the main driving force behind it.

Our four research directions are: First, policy research on integrating Hong Kong into the national development framework. For example, the recent Central Financial Work Conference's emphasis on building a strong financial nation and enhancing Hong Kong's status as an international financial center are of great importance to us, and we explore how Hong Kong can align with these national strategies.

The second direction is international situation analysis. This is why we recently visited Beijing for exchanges with the Foreign Ministry's policy research institutions. As an international city, Hong Kong needs to maintain its unique position while serving the country's diplomatic objectives. We are currently conducting researches on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), focusing on relations with the ASEAN and the Middle East, which is crucial for Hong Kong's future international development.

The third direction is conducting forward-looking, strategic, and macroscopic policy research. Our division of labor with Hong Kong's 15 policy bureaus requires us to "stand higher and look further ahead."

We have exchanged with policy research offices of central government ministries, planning long-term strategies well into 2035, and we aim to do similar long-term planning, such as addressing Hong Kong's deep-rooted issues.

The fourth direction involves analyzing Hong Kong's public sentiment, opinions, political trends, and social movements. We use various channels such as surveys, social media analyses, and big data, including interviews with political figures and stakeholders, to grasp these aspects.
GT: How does the policy unit interact with the chief executive? To what extent do the unit's findings influence the chief executive's and SAR's policy measures?

Wong: We submit weekly research reports to the Chief Executive and report to him in person. He assigns us tasks directly and supervises our work closely. After receiving his directives on certain content, we continue conducting in-depth analyses with relevant policy bureaus, which ultimately reflects in the annual Policy Address.

GT: We noticed that the CEPU includes an expert group with many well-known professionals from Hong Kong and the mainland. How does this expert group contribute to the governance of the SAR, and to what extent are their opinions adopted?

Wong: The CEPU has an expert group consisting of 56 members, many of whom are renowned policy researchers. We have four major communication mechanisms with these experts to align with their key research findings.

For example, each member of the expert group is paired with a senior researcher from the policy unit, serving as the expert's personal research liaison, providing timely, appropriate, and targeted communication and assistance, including at least quarterly interactions.

The policy unit also listens to the research outcomes of the experts, enriching the perspectives and content of our own research. We also conduct in-depth group exchanges with expert group members on specific research topics.

Additionally, earlier this year, the SAR government established a 34-member Chief Executive advisory group, including influential figures from Hong Kong, the mainland and other countries and regions. The policy unit plays the role of the secretariat or office for the advisory group, incorporating the thoughts and opinions of the advisors into our research.

Moreover, I have previously served as a Legislative Council member, a National People's Congress deputy, and a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and interacted with influential individuals in the business and industry sectors. Their opinions also form an important basis for our internal research.

To some extent, the policy unit acts as a "think tank of think tanks," absorbing opinions from various sources and transforming them into the governance philosophy of the SAR government.
GT: How frequent do you and your colleagues interact with institutions and enterprises in the mainland?

Wong: Since December 28, 2022, I have been to the mainland nearly 10 times for official purposes. Most of these visits and research objectives were related to the development of the Greater Bay Area, including cities like Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, and Jiangmen, and I also attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.

Earlier December, I, along with 19 colleagues, went to Beijing to attend a workshop on "enhancing strategic planning and policy research capabilities" held at Peking University. During our stay, Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, met with our delegation. He talked with us for a long time and gave us many important instructions and advice.

In addition, in Beijing, we visited six [central government] ministries and their affiliated research institutions for exchanges, including the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Commerce, and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, to ensure that Hong Kong's policies better align and serve the national development strategy.

I also encourage my colleagues to conduct more researches in the mainland and report back to me, which is very important for our work.

GT: How much attention does the policy unit pay to the national security work of the SAR?

Wong: The policy unit has three deputy heads, and one of whom comes from the Security Bureau [of the SAR government], reflecting the need for Hong Kong to balance "security and development." The Chief Executive is also very concerned about security affairs, so we do a lot of work in this area.

Thus, in the 2023 Policy Address, we mentioned the legislation of Article 23, the establishment of an office to promote Chinese culture under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, setting up two museums to introduce the country's history and the history of resistance against Japanese aggression, and the implementation of patriotic education in primary and secondary schools and in various sectors of Hong Kong society. All these are important aspects of building a national security system.

Airlines from China, US on stable path to raise flights after agreement

Airlines from China and the US are on a stable path to increase flights between the two countries, recording the biggest jump since the outbreak of the pandemic, amid recent efforts by the Chinese and US governments to increase flights.

On Monday, US-based Delta Air Lines said that it would increase the frequency of nonstop services between Shanghai-Pudong and Detroit to daily flights, beginning on May 23.
Delta is currently operating daily flights from Shanghai-Pudong to Seattle and three-times-weekly services to Detroit.

After the change, Delta will operate two daily flights from Shanghai to its US gateways.

Delta is not alone.

United Airlines said earlier this month that it would add four weekly flights between Los Angeles and Shanghai starting on August 29. Further, in late October, the Shanghai-Los Angeles route will be increased to daily service. This service complements United's daily service between San Francisco-Shanghai and San Francisco-Beijing.

In addition, six Chinese airlines including Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, which serve routes between the two countries, all announced new flight schedules to the US.

Air China will add one flight per week between Beijing and Los Angeles and two flights per week between Beijing and New York from March 31, and China Eastern will add two weekly flights from Shanghai to Los Angeles and one weekly flight from Shanghai to San Francisco starting from March 31.

China Southern will add one new weekly flight from Guangzhou to Los Angeles on March 31, and two new weekly flights from Guangzhou to San Francisco on April 2.
The new flights between China and the US operated by Chinese airlines are still mostly concentrated in Los Angeles and San Francisco in the western US.

The announcements came after the agreement made by the Chinese and US governments recently. Starting on March 31, airlines from China and the US can operate a total of 100 scheduled round trips per week, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China on February 29.

China and the US have seen increasing flights in recent years, and this round of increases is the biggest jump since the outbreak of the pandemic. There were three rounds of increases in 2023, and the latest was up from 48 flights to 70 flights, starting from November.

However, the total number of flights linking China and the US is still lagging behind the level of 2019. Even after this increase in flights, the level of recovery still lagged behind those among other countries.

In 2019, daily passenger flights between China and the US averaged 165, with a daily peak of 181, data from information provider VariFlight showed.

Data from Fly Master showed that China's outbound passenger flights during the Spring Festival period recovered to 69.3 percent of the level in 2019.

The destinations were concentrated in East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Korea, Thailand and Japan ranking in the top three. In terms of the recovery rate, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and the UK exceeded 100 percent.

Chinese biotech firms say US bill to harm fair competition

The US Senate's homeland security committee approved a bill on Wednesday (US time) to prohibit contracts with Chinese biotech providers including BGI Group, MGI and Complete Genomics, in the latest move by Washington to expand its suppression of Chinese companies in this new field of medicine under the guise of national security.

While the bill has a long way to go before becoming law, it reportedly aims to ban US federal agencies and the US government from contracting with these Chinese firms.

"BGI, WuXi AppTec and other highly subsidized companies seek to undercut their way into dominating the US biotech market while aggressively collecting the genetic and other sensitive medical data of tens of millions of Americans and transferring it back to China for malign or unknown purposes," US Senator Bill Hagerty alleged, according to a post on Hagerty's official website on Wednesday.

In a response, BGI Group said it fully supports the bill's premise of protecting Americans' personal data, but driving BGI out of the US, which is what this bill is intended to achieve, is unlikely to accomplish its goal since BGI does not have access to that data.

"The bill will limit competition and strengthen the market monopoly in the important field of human genome sequencing by using the legislative process to pick winners and losers," BGI told the Global Times on Thursday.

In a statement released on Thursday, WuXi AppTec said that it strongly disagrees with the US Senate's "preemptive and unfair" move of designating it as a "biotechnology company of concern" in its draft bill.

"WuXi AppTec has not posed, does not pose, and will not pose a security risk to the US or any other country," the company said.

Wuxi Biologics (Cayman) Inc clarified on Thursday that it is not a subsidiary of Wuxi AppTec Co. The company said it does not have a human genomics business, nor does it collect human genomic data in any of its businesses, while also stressing that it does not pose any national security risk to the US or any other country.

Chinese observers blasted US politicians, who they said were portraying China as an "imagined enemy" and expanding a crackdown on Chinese bio-tech and new-energy vehicle (NEV) companies.They said that American politicians are purposely setting obstacles to impede normal China-US economic and trade ties.

"This is another typical case in which US politicians purposely make China an 'imagined enemy' to step up suppression of Chinese companies for their own political gains, as the US presidential election draws near," Li Yong, a senior research fellow at the China Association of International Trade, told the Global Times on Thursday.

What US politicians are concerned about is that they cannot live in a world led by Chinese companies, and they have come up with every excuse to hinder China's development in a wide range of sectors including telecommunications, NEVs and now bio-technology, Li said.

"While China and the US are expanding their dialogues, what the US is doing has posed impediments to normal China-US trade," he said. He urged the US to correct its wrongdoing.

Recent media reports said that US President Joe Biden will sign an executive order to prevent foreign entities from accessing troves of Americans' personal data.

"The US overstretches the concept of national security, falsely accuses China of purchasing Americans' personal and sensitive data for malicious activities, and prevents the transfer of data to so-called 'countries of concern' including China," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a recent press conference on February 29, 2024.

"The Chinese government takes data privacy and security very seriously. We have never asked and will never ask any company or individual to collect or provide data, information or intelligence located abroad against local laws for the Chinese government," Mao noted.

World cannot return to a state of isolation; China opposes all form of unilateralism: FM

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Wednesday said the world cannot return to a state of isolation and that China opposes all forms of unilateralism and protectionism in response to International Monetary Fund (IMF) warning that fragmentation of the global economy and increasing national security restrictions could lead to a 7 percent loss in global GDP.

Whether it is trade wars or technological battles, the underlying objective is to politicize, instrumentalize, and weaponize economic and trade issues. The aim is to secure a monopoly on their own developmental advantages, impede the growth of emerging markets and developing nations, and deny the 7 billion people worldwide their right to pursue a happy life, Wang said.

Wang said that China is willing to work with all parties to promote universally beneficial and inclusive economic globalization. China firmly opposes deglobalization and overstretching the national security concept, and opposes all forms of unilateralism and protectionism.

The remarks come as the IMF warned that global economic fragmentation could lead to a 7 percent loss in global GDP.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told CNN in an interview aired on Tuesday local time that restrictions related to "national security" are increasing, and geopolitical factors are causing economic divisions worldwide. 

Allowed to continue, this could ultimately reduce Global GDP by 7 percent - roughly equal to the annual output of France and Germany, she said.

"So we are all better off to find ways to reduce frictions, to concentrate on security concerns that are real and meaningful, and not go willy-nilly in fragmenting the world economy. We would end up with a smaller pie," she said.

Wang said that the world cannot return to a state of isolation and cannot be arbitrarily divided. Any practice of seeking selfish gains at the expense of neighbors, any mindset of confrontation between camps, and any arrogance of self-centeredness will not lead to good results.

China will promote equal rights, equal opportunities, and equal rules for all countries, safeguarding the development rights of all countries, and working toward common development and prosperity.

The IMF's report in October 2023 predicted a slowdown in global economic growth from 3.0 percent in 2023 to 2.9 percent in 2024.

Harbin's tourism boom fuels stock market surge  

Harbin in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province has experienced a recent boom in its tourism sector, boosting listed companies related to the tourism sector.

The popularity of Harbin has had a significant impact in the field of winter tourism. Stocks related to tourism, such as Dalian Sunasia Tourism Holding and Changbai Mountain Tourism Co have surged in recent days. Other tourism-related stocks, including Wuhan Sante Cableway Group Co and Zhang Jia Jie Tourism Group Co, have also followed the upward trend.

Changbai Mountain Tourism Co disclosed in a filing on Thursday that Changbai Mountain scenic area in Northeast China's Jilin Province reported a year-on-year increase of 260.5 percent in the number of tourists in 2023, a 9.4 percent increase compared to the same period in 2019.

In addition to the tourism sector, shares related to the revitalization of Northeast China also remained active in the stock market. Companies such as Heilongjiang Transport Development Co, Longjian Road & Bridge Co, and Zhongxing Shenyang Commercial Building Group Co saw significant gains in Thursday trading. 

Harbin has been trending on various platforms, attracting a large number of tourists for its snow activities and the hospitality of local people. 

According to data from the local tourism bureau, during the New Year’s Day holidays, Harbin received a record-breaking 3.04 million tourist visits, generating total tourism revenue of 5.91 billion yuan ($826.48 million). This marks a high point, both in the number of tourists and tourism revenue. 

Harbin Taiping International Airport also achieved a new high in 2023, handling a total passenger throughput of 20.80 million, surpassing the previous record of 20.78 million in 2019.  

The positive trend extends beyond Harbin to the entire province of Heilongjiang. During the New Year’s Day holidays, the province received a total of 6.61 million tourist visits, a year-on-year increase of 173.7 percent, surpassing the national growth rate by 18.4 percentage points. Tourism revenue in Heilongjiang reached 6.92 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 364.7 percent, surpassing the national growth rate by 164 percentage points.

A Xinjiang hospital's Key State Lab signs deal with Kazakhstan center to enhance cooperation on treatment of high incidence diseases and organ transplantation

A Xinjiang hospital's Key State Lab has signed a deal with the Kazakhstan National Medical Science Center to enhance cooperation on prevention and treatment of high incidence diseases in Central Asia. Additionally, the Xinjiang Medical University Hospital also signed a parallel agreement for surgery and organ transplantation. The signing marks an increased role for China in helping improving the health conditions of Central Asian countries with the support of the China Organ Transplant Development Foundation.

The deal was signed by the Kazakhstan center with The First Affiliated Hospital of Xinjiang Medical University and the hospital's Key State Laboratory of Pathogenesis, Prevention and Treatment of High Incidence Diseases in Central Asia, at the 7th China-International Organ Donation Conference and the Belt & Road Symposium on Organ Donation and Transplantation International Cooperation Development in Nanning, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Saturday.

After the signing of the deal, Kazakhstan will send medical personnel to study at the Xinjiang Medical University hospital and Key State Laboratory specifically for research and treatment against high incidence diseases in Central Asia, Wen Hao, head of the Key State Lab of Xinjiang Medical University, told the Global Times on Saturday. The laboratory and the hospital are well-equipped and host a wide range of departments, "thus we can answer almost any technical request from the Kazaks. who are also thrilled about it," Wen said.

Wen said that the Key State Laboratory was opened in 2017. It is actively working with five Central Asian neighboring countries on training, as well as studying and treating major diseases in these areas, such as cervical cancer and esophageal cancer. Additionally, zoonotic cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cerebrovascular diseases are also prevalent and pose the greatest threat to the people's health in Central Asia.

Ever since the Key State Laboratory was established, it has been working to strengthen cooperation with Central Asian countries. Wen noted that China is ahead of neighboring countries in terms of scale, quality, and national standards of medical care, which is one of the reasons these countries are interested in working with China. .

In July of this year, the Xinjiang hospital assisted the Kazakhstan National Medical Science Center in successfully treating a patient with alveolar Echinoccosis by using Exvivo Liver Resection & Autotransplantation (ELRA) for the first time.

Wen stated that in active response to the Belt and Road Initiative, his lab and hospital had dispatched a team of medical experts to Central Asian countries, such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Through medical technology exchanges, hosting bilateral academic forums, and establishing technology promotion and training bases, the hospital aims to continuously deepen and broaden cooperation with these Central Asian countries, seeking to enable people in these countries to access and benefit from high-quality medical resources.

In May of this year, China and five Central Asian countries jointly signed the Xi'an Declaration of the China-Central Asia Summit, which was held in Chinese city of Xi'an. In the declaration, all sides agreed to further deepen health and medical cooperation, promote the construction of traditional Chinese medicine centers, and carry out herbal planting and processing cooperation to create a healthy "Silk Road."

After China has improved its own work on organ donation and transplantation, sharing expertise with countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative has also become very important. Aims include pushing forward their development in this regard, and assisting them with the development of local medical systems and technology, Huang Jiefu, chairman of China Human Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee and Chair of COTDF Advisory Board told the Global Times on Saturday.

Wen said that in recent years, countries such as India, South Korea, Japan, and some Western countries, have been trying to exert influence over Central Asia. He mentioned that Abay Baigenzhin, Chairman of the Management Board of Kazakhstan National Medical Science Center, told him that cooperation with Western countries usually involves big promises but little action. However, after enhancing cooperation with China, Kazakhstan appreciated that China not only kept its promises, but also had the ability to implement projects.

Wen also noted that now China is offering preferential policies for medical students from Central Asian countries, which has facilitated medical exchanges between China and the region. "Such cooperation is helpful for people-to-people exchanges between China and those countries; and there is no basis for attacking or smearing efforts to help people cure diseases."

"In the next two years leading up to 2025, we should expect to see more practical cases of collaboration, inspiring stories, and data to support our cooperation in organ transplantation and donation with Central Asian countries. These developments will further bolster our contributions to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of prevalent diseases in Central Asia, as well as the promotion of public health across the region regions," said Wen.

China sees 40,200 organ donations from 2015 to 2022

China saw more than 40,200 deceased organ donations from 2015 to the end of 2022, with 120,100 major organs donated. Additionally, more than 6.55 million people have voluntarily registered for organ donations, according to the China Organ Transplant Development Foundation (COTDF).

The COTDF revealed the figure at the 7th China-International Organ Donation Conference and the Belt & Road Symposium on Organ Donation and Transplantation International Cooperation Development, which kicked off in Nanning, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, on Saturday.

Currently, China ranks second in the world and first in Asia in terms of the number of organ donations, benefiting numerous patients in need. The COTDF said that 5,628 deceased organ donations were made in 2022, an increase of 6.75 percent compared to 2021.

More than 20,000 organ donations are made in Chinese mainland each year, ranking second in the world in terms of data. However, organ donors per million people (PMP) is less than 4 percent, which is far from satisfactory compared to the 47 percent in developed countries, Huang Jiefu, chairman of China Human Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee and chair of the COTDF Advisory Board, told the Global Times on Saturday.

He pointed out that there are not enough hospitals in China to satisfy patients' demand for organ transplants. "China currently has only slightly more than 70 hospitals that perform heart and lung transplants. Thus, there is still a shortage of doctors and hospitals to meet the needs of the people," said Huang.

In October, China's State Council held an executive meeting that adopted a draft revision to the regulations on donation and transplantation of human organs.

The government aims to establish a system for tracing and supervising the whole procedure of donating and transplanting human organs. It will enhance ethical reviews on how human organs are obtained and crack down on crimes involving human organs, according to the meeting.

Talking about the revision, Huang used the phrase "scraping poison off the bone" to describe the determination in China's organ donation reform.

He said that under the leadership of the central government, this reform has achieved significant victories and has been widely recognized by the international community. The revision of the regulation demonstrates the Party and the country's emphasis on organ donation, providing strong legal protection for the high-quality development of the organ donation cause, said Huang.

Huang said that the word "donation" carries special meaning. With the coming of the regulation, organ donations will be more transparent, and it also calls for more people to get involved in organ donations and transplants. In the future, it is hoped that China's organ transplantation technology will spread to more countries in the Belt and Road Initiative via the Organ Donation and Transplant under the Framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, said Huang.

Talking about China's recent achievements in organ transplantation, John Fung, president-elect of the Transplantation Society, told the Global Times that in terms of survival, China meets international standards.

"The primary accomplishment of China's transplant efforts is that a country that had very limited transplants 30 years ago is now able to compete with any other transplant program in the world in terms of quality," said Fung.

However, Fung also mentioned that the primary challenge in China is that "it has a very large population and still not enough access to transplants. There are many barriers to transplants for the common people in terms of costs as well as a shortage of organs."

Yet he said that China is getting there as the trajectory of donations in the country is increasing fast, thus he is confident that five years from now China will move to a much higher rate of donation.

The Belt & Road Symposium on Organ Donation and Transplantation International Cooperation Development held a launch ceremony, during which those in attendance agreed to establish a series of action plans in the areas of leadership, management, quality control and technological innovation in organ donations and transplantations based on the principles outlined by WHO Guiding Principles on Human Cell, Tissue and Organ Transplantation.

Through continuous strengthening of interaction, deepening of mutual trust, and fostering of friendship, the goal of self-sufficiency in organ donation will be achieved.

Fung also mentioned that there is an organized conspiracy on the international stage that tries to play down the accomplishments of China's organ donation experience, by feeding misinformation about transplants in China to further damage the country's reputation.

For example, a new wave of accusations of "organ harvesting" in China has emerged. Following some Western media reports from the China Tribunal, which accused the Chinese government of "harvesting organs from Falun Gong practitioners" and Uygurs "detained in camps" since June 2019, VICE magazine's France version also released a new report on the same topic on June 19, offering more so-called "evidence."

By digging into those stories, the Global Times has found out that such claims are lies interwoven by members of the Falun Gong cult, separatists from Xinjiang and overseas anti-China forces with the purpose to further paint China as a devil mistreating minorities in Xinjiang, to smear the country's organ transplantation and donation system and its anti-terrorism work in Xinjiang, and to instigate the international community to further pressure China.

In response to this recent slander, Huang said that China's reform on organ transplantation is to keep friends close and keep enemies closer. "You can never wake up someone who is pretending to be asleep… we are not afraid of those slanders, as long as what we are doing is justified and is on the right course."

Fung suggested that more publications about "China's organ transplantation be disseminated globally for people to understand that China complies with international standards and that their outcomes for transplantations are as good as anybody else's. As transplantation society president I will do my best to make it more open for the world to understand and appreciate w