Driverless robotaxi companies unlikely to report revenue from ride-hailing services over short term

Robotaxis are getting more and more attention in the Chinese market, but some companies say that driverless cabs are hardly generating any revenue at this stage.

Dazhong Transportation (Group) Co, one of Shanghai's leading taxi companies, has seen its stock prices rise due to the growing interest in intelligent connected vehicles. However, on Monday, the company announeced that these vehicles are still in an experimental stage and are not generating any substantial revenue.

"The development prospect of robotaxi remains uncertain, and there will be no significant impact on the company's operations in the short term," the  company said.

Jinjiang Online, another Shanghai-based taxi company, also addressed the concept of driverless robotaxis. The company is conducting pilot operations of robotaxis in designated areas of Shanghai, which are still experimental and generate minimal revenue. The outlook for robotaxis is uncertain, but will not influence the company's short-term development.

Driverless robotaxis are facing challenges in achieving significant profits over the short term because some regulatory rules have not been implemented,  transportation experts said.

"Prior to mass comercialization, relavent government departments need to conduct regular assess on the impact of robotaxis, focusing on road traffic efficiency, industrial development and social and ethical implications," Zhang Li, a vice dean of the Law School at China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

According to Zhang, operators of robotaxis services must address liability and passenger rights in case of traffic accidents. Operators should buy carrier insurance and be liable for breaches of contract or torts, just like traditional taxi companies. 

"When passengers use the app, they enter into a contract, and any accident that disrupts the services should hold the provider accountable," Zhang said.

"From an economic restructuring standpoint, AI is a critical field where China aims to lead. Autonomous driving, a key player and driver of smart industry upgrades, will eventually move from pilot testing to commercialization. However, this process should be gradual and not rushed," Wu Shuocheng, a veteran automobile industry analyst, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

EC’s trade defense measures harm all sides involved: industry body

The European Commission (EC) made many unlawful findings in the preliminary determination on tariffs over Chinese imported electric vehicles (EVs), incompatible with WTO and EU rules, according to the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME).

Trade defense measures will harm all sides involved, the Chinese industry body noted.

"The strength and growth of the EU and Chinese battery electric vehicles (BEV) industries lie in collaboration, not conflict. China is still open to, and hopeful of, a balanced solution to this investigation," the CCCME said.

The industry body has presented its views on the preliminary determination orally in a hearing with the EC, stating is it "very concerned" that the determination is WTO-inconsistent on subsidy, injury and causality findings as well as procedural aspects. The CCCME urged the EC to correct their unlawful findings and terminate the investigation.

The CCCME pointed out that the EC did not comply with the legal rules and departed from its established practice of selecting the exporting producers representing the largest export volume to the EU in the sample as the three selected Chinese BEV firms only represent a total of 49 percent of the total Chinese BEV export volume to the EU.

On Friday, in a meeting with Volkswagen AG Chairman of the Board Oliver Blume, China's Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao urged the EC and the EU member states to speed up the consultation process and reach an appropriate solution as soon as possible to prevent the escalation of trade frictions on the basis of respecting facts and rules.

The CCCME in June submitted a brief on behalf of the domestic machinery and electronic products sector concerning the EU's barrier investigation, with its application materials received by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

The EC earlier this month introduced provisional additional tariffs of up to 37.6 percent on Chinese EV makers. The decision has met opposing voices from many EU countries and industry bodies.

In an interview with Xinhua, published on Saturday, Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the Center for Automotive Research in Bochum, criticized the EU imposing additional tariffs on the imports of Chinese EVs.

The German expert said that the tariffs are "not based on proven facts," but on assertions to justify them.

According to the EC, a final decision will be taken on definitive duties in the coming months.

Surge in generative AI use in China shows market vitality: insiders

China is leading the world in the use of generative artificial intelligence (AI), according to a survey released on Tuesday. Analysts said it signals that the country is making technological advances and there are bright prospects for the domestic AI sector.

AI use by respondents from China has surged to 83 percent, according to the report by US AI and analytics software company SAS and Coleman Parkes Research. The survey targeted 1,600 decision makers across key global markets.

The survey found upticks in generative AI use across the world, with the largest increases in China. To be specific, the adoption rate of generative AI in China was higher than in 16 other countries and regions, surpassing the US where only 65 percent of respondents reported using generative AI.

The market size of AI-generated content in China’s e-commerce industry is projected to triple in 2024, reaching 1.2 billion yuan ($171.4 million). This significant increase demonstrates the growing importance and effectiveness of generative AI tools in enhancing brand sales and driving traffic for e-commerce brands, Wu Bin, CEO of infimind, a Beijing-based AI technology solutions provider in the fashion and e-commerce industry, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Yan Junjie, CEO of Shanghai-based emerging startup MiniMax, told the Global Times that the rapid adoption of large language models (LLMs) and enterprise data for developing custom generative AI applications will lead to significant growth in the market. The long-term prospects for generative AI are promising, Yan said.

“As the cost of LLM services for enterprises continues to decrease, we can expect Chinese companies to increasingly embrace generative AI at a faster pace in the coming years,” Yan noted.

A recent UN report showed that China topped the list for generative AI patent filings in the past decade. Industry insiders said all these signs indicate that China has surged ahead in the generative AI landscape.

Generative AI has continued to transform multiple business sectors in China. As its adoption in various sectors accelerates, benefits from its application include reduced costs and increased revenue, observers said.

In terms of specific industries, respondents working in TMT, retailing, insurance, banking and life sciences report the largest increase in generative AI use.

Generative AI can be used to create new content, including audio, code, images, text, simulations, and videos. Some of the most common generative models in use today are large language models – like the one that powers ChatGPT, which is capable of creating language and text – and diffusion models, which create images and video.

Since ChatGPT burst onto the scene in November 2022, generative AI has come a long way. Leveraging its large market size and homegrown innovations, China has seen a number of generative AI applications emerge, including short video creation, e-commerce and education.

For instance, in e-commerce and short video platforms, generative AI can offer exceptional levels of personalization and empower more dynamic and efficient content creation.

Last week, a report by the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization showed China was leading the generative patent race, filing more than 38,000 between 2014 and 2023, against 6,276 filed by the US in the same period. The top patent applicants in China include TikTok owner ByteDance, Tencent, Ping An Insurance Group and Baidu.

Generative AI is driving economic growth. A 2023 report from McKinsey estimates that generative AI is set to add up to $4.4 trillion of value to the global economy annually. This would increase the impact of AI by 15 to 40 percent. According to another recent report on China, McKinsey predicted that generative AI is expected to be a significant contributor to China’s economy, with the potential to add up to $2 trillion to GDP. This is part of a broader $6 trillion economic impact expected from AI in China.

BMW China says it aims to support dealers, following claim about pulling out of 'price war'

Following a claim that BMW China will withdraw from the "price war" in the car market, the company said in a statement on Friday that in the second half of 2024, it will focus on the quality of its business in the Chinese market and support dealers to operate steadily.

The response came after a blogger said on social media that due to serious losses caused by the price war, BMW China will stabilize product prices from July to ease the operating pressure on dealers, even if it means a reduction in sales.

According to domestic financial news portal, BMW China suddenly sent a letter to all dealers at the end of May, saying that in view of the market background and the huge impact of domestic brands, it would be issuing substantial subsidies and relief policies to 4S stores.

The policies are intended to help dealers overcome short-term difficulties, relieve business pressure, and jointly provide excellent products, services and luxury travel experiences for Chinese consumers, reported, citing a person with knowledge of the issue.

In the first half of this year, BMW sold 375,947 vehicles in the Chinese market, including BMW and Mini brands, down 4 percent from the same period last year.

China's total automobile sales reached 14.047 million in the first half, an increase of 6.1 percent year-on-year, according to statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Analysts said that the price war in the passenger car market has been driven partly by the country's auto trade-in policy, which encourages scrapping of more polluting vehicles and trading up to more fuel-efficient cars or new-energy vehicles (NEVs).

The policy is part of China's plan to encourage large-scale equipment renewal and trade-in of consumer goods. A fixed one-time subsidy of up to 10,000 yuan ($1,379) is available for individuals who scrap vehicles that only reach China's level III emission standard or below.

NEV producers are gaining an increasing share of the market, and this trend will continue in the coming years, industry observers said. This will create fierce competition between newer and older players in the sector, and this process will continue for several years until a new industry landscape is formed.

EU should drop politically motivated mentality in trade talks over EV tariffs with China, as cooperation – not confrontation – needed for China-EU trade ties: experts

The EU should listen more to internal voices within the bloc before announcing any decision to impose additional tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles (EVs), Chinese experts said on Sunday, as EU member states are reportedly set to vote on Monday on the trade matter.

As trade talks are ongoing, experts stressed that cooperation, not confrontation, is needed in bilateral trade relations.

EU member states are set to vote on imposing provisional tariffs on China-made EVs, Reuters reported, citing sources, in what it described "the first test of support for Brussels' landmark trade case."

The report said that Germany, whose vehicle makers obtained one-third of their sales in the Chinese market last year, is set to abstain in Monday's vote in the spirit of "critical solidarity" with the European Commission (EC).

The first vote for EU member states is written and confidential, and it is non-binding. At the provisional stage, the EC has full power to impose duties, although it consults EU members and is supposed to take their positions into account, the report said.

These internal consultations, which would take place on Monday, are unlikely to have much of an effect on the EC's final judgment, as China-EU negotiations are ongoing and the final outcome is likely to be determined in November, Ye Bin, a research fellow specializing in EU laws at the Institute of European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The Chinese expert urged the EU to listen more to internal voices within the bloc, especially industry players that will bear the brunt should the tariffs be imposed.

Germany's reported move serves as the latest and important reflection of opposition to EV tariffs targeting China. German industries may be worried about the consequence from the additional tariffs and possible trade tensions on both sides, so they chose to express some concerns, Ye said.

"Germany's reported abstention on this issue shows that it neither explicitly opposes it nor does it want to intensify conflicts, which may reflect Germany's desire to seek balance within its industry and tone down some concerns in its industry," Ye said. "But it also reflects that the German industry's opposition to EU policies still plays a certain role."

On July 4, the EC ruled that the individual duties applying to the three sampled Chinese producers are 17.4 percent for BYD, 19.9 percent for Geely and 37.6 percent for SAIC. Other EV producers in China, which cooperated in the investigation but were not sampled, are subject to the 20.8 percent weighted average duty.

China has been an active player in trade talks over the EV tariffs and the EU, including its member countries, has been in talks with China over the issue.

"The Chinese government has used the utmost sincerity, strived for maximum dialogue and tried its best to do what it should do," Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Sunday.

However, the actual trade talks are still full of challenges and will be difficult, Bai said, urging the EU to meet China halfway.

It is important for the EU to understand that cooperation, and not confrontation, should play a key role in bilateral economic and trade ties, Bai said. The EU has been a direct beneficiary of cooperation with the Chinese car industry, highlighted by the increasing investment that has helped facilitate the region's green transformation.

According to the report "Greening Europe: Report on Development of Chinese NEV Manufacturers in Europe," co-authored by the China Chamber of Commerce to the European Union (CCCEU) and the China Economic Information Service, which was launched on June 19 in Brussels, Chinese companies in the new-energy vehicle (NEV) sector have been increasing their investment and cooperation in Europe.

As of the end of 2023, Chinese NEV companies had set up more than 20 research and development centers and production bases in Europe, creating jobs and establishing close partnerships with local supply chains, and boosting the development of Europe's new-energy industry, according to the CCCEU.

Also at that point, China had 8.596 million charging facilities, with public charging exceeding 80 percent in 17 major cities, the CCCEU said. In contrast, the EU had about 630,000 public charging stations, falling far short of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association's prediction of needing a staggering 8.8 million by 2030 to meet consumer demand.

Without additional tariffs, both sides will share greater benefits, given the industry's high complementarity, which requires more cooperation and not confrontation, experts said.

"Enhancing collaboration with China, instead of pursuing decoupling and succumbing to trade protectionism, will enable the EU to optimize its interests in the industry chain upgrade and the transition to EVs," Bai said.

China's GDP expands 5 percent in H1 2024, on track to hit full-year economic growth target

China's GDP expanded 5 percent to reach 61.68 trillion yuan ($8.49 trillion) in the first half of 2024, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Monday, demonstrating the resilience and innate strength of the world's second-largest economy.

In the second quarter, China's GDP grew by 4.7 percent year-on-year, edging down slightly from the 5.3-percent growth recorded in the first quarter. 

Chinese officials and analysts pointed out that this slowdown is just a short-term fluctuation that won't sway the economy from its sustained recovery momentum. The fundamentals of the economy remain positive and are set to improve in the second half, they stressed, listing a number of standout economic drivers including ongoing industrial upgrade, robust exports, as well as substantial investment in high-end manufacturing.

The 5-percent stable growth in the first half also puts China on a firm track to hitting its full-year economic growth target of around 5 percent, economists said, which is a new piece of evidence squarely refuting certain foreign media outlets' bearish views on the Chinese economy. China's GDP growth is expected to lead major economies this year, further consolidating the country's role as a key engine and a stabilizer of the world economy.  

As the 20th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) started its third plenary session in Beijing on Monday morning, observers also expected the reform-themed plenum to channel new impetus into second-half economic growth and decisively lead the country to overcome rising headwinds and march toward Chinese modernization.

"The Chinese economy's operations have remained stable despite a complex global and domestic environment, achieving not only growth in quantity but also improvement in quality [in the first six months]. This is a praiseworthy and solid economic transcript," an NBS spokesperson said on Monday, according to a statement on the bureau's website. 

The spokesperson also stressed that for an economy as large as China's, maintaining a medium-to-high growth rate of around 5 percent is in itself also truly remarkable.

Growth highlights

Analysts said that the first-half economic growth is "stable and moderate," and it more importantly mirrors a comprehensive picture of the recovery of the world's second-largest economy: while being confronted with challenges such as insufficient effective demand, prolonged property adjustment and weak social expectations, it is undergoing a stage of transformation toward a high-quality development model under which the development of new drivers, such as new quality productive forces, are gaining steam. 

Cao Heping, an economist from Peking University, told the Global Times on Monday that despite the slightly slower GDP growth rate in the second quarter, the country's economic transformation and upgrading is picking up speed. He highlighted the country's compelling export data, rapid development of new industries such as electric vehicles and investment in sci-tech innovations.

Factory activity remains the main engine for the economy, partly fueled by resilient overseas demand. The value added of industrial enterprises above a designated size jumped 6 percent year-on-year in the first six months, with the development of new quality productive forces showing more palpable drive.

Breaking the figures down, the output of 3D printing equipment, new energy vehicles and integrated circuit products jumped 51.6 percent, 34.3 percent and 28.9 percent, respectively, in the same period. 

In the first six months, China's exports grew a stunning 6.9 percent in yuan-denominated terms, customs data showed on Friday. As major economies like the US and EU bring down interest rates, the strength of external demand is accumulating, which will be favorable to China's foreign trade throughout the year, analysts said.  

Meanwhile, retail sales of consumer goods in the first six months were up 3.7 percent, and fixed-asset investment edged up by 3.9 percent, NBS data showed. In particular, investment in high-tech industries soared an impressive 10.6 percent year-on-year.

The investment data is a reflection of the country's competitiveness in the manufacturing sector, particularly high-end manufacturing, Darius Tang, associate director of corporate at Fitch Bohua, told the Global Times on Monday. 

"Also, with the acceleration of special local government bonds as well as the 1 trillion yuan ultra long-term special treasury bond issuance, the gradual formation of physical workloads will help infrastructure investments, especially those that utilize funds from treasury bonds, to maintain a moderate growth rate," Tang noted.

As the gaps between the supply and demand sides narrow, the slew of data also sends an encouraging sign of a more even economic recovery track, analysts pointed out.

On track for annual target

The 5-percent GDP growth in the first half of 2024 is consistent with the government's target set at the beginning of the year. However, immediately after the data was released, certain Western media outlets cited the slowdown in the second quarter to smear the Chinese economy. Some exaggerated the downward pressure faced by the country and abruptly hinted that China could derail from its annual GDP target.

While acknowledging the increasing challenges that are weighing on current economic operations, the NBS spokesperson explained that the slowdown in the April-June period was also influenced by short-term factors such as extreme weather conditions and frequent rain and flood disasters.

The spokesperson called for a comprehensive evaluation of the situation. "We should not only see the 'form' of short-term fluctuations but also grasp the 'trend' of long-term development," he noted. 

Although uncertainties and pressures remain and could intensify in the second half, those are problems that are encountered as progress is being made and will ultimately be solved through promoting development, he said, stressing that the relevant Chinese departments have formed a sober understanding of these issues and taken a series of measures to address them. 

Tian Yun, an economist based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday that the second half, particularly the third quarter, offers a window of opportunity for further easing the economic downsides, particularly in helping the bottoming-out of the property sector and shoring up of consumer demand. Improvements in those fields are critical in keeping China on track for the 5-percent whole-year target, or from a long-term perspective, marching toward the secondary centenary goal. 

"The annual GDP goal is within reach, but it will be an assiduous journey to achieve it," he stressed.

This week, the eyes of the world have been on the reform-themed third plenum, which started on Monday and will last until Thursday. The plenum will primarily examine issues related to further comprehensively deepening reform and advancing Chinese modernization, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Analysts said that the fundamentals of China's economic recovery are expected to further stabilize and improve in the second half upon the pivotal gathering, during which the CPC leadership will map out a blueprint for the country's long-term development.

"It will be worth watching how Chinese authorities promote further reforms and formulate top-level design to tackle emerging challenges in the second half. Those measures will be key to stabilizing social expectations," Tian noted. 

"More pro-growth measures will be launched to bolster economic prospects," Tian said, while suggesting that authorities accelerate the issuance of special government bonds and further strengthen counter-cyclical adjustments to lower the overall financing costs for the real economy.

"Amid rising geopolitical tensions and sluggish economic recovery, a stable Chinese economy remains an anchor for global economic stability," Cao said.

US side stays silent after US company found to have revised evidence after truth about 'Volt Typhoon' revealed

After China released an investigation report on Volt Typhoon, the US, in order to cover up the evidence, instructed related companies to change the content of report they released previously, completely disregarding the traces left during the operation, the Global Times learned on Sunday. However, the US Embassy in China and company involved stayed silent when the Global Times reached for comments.

On May 24, 2023, the cybersecurity authorities from The Five Eyes countries - the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, issued a joint cybersecurity advisory, claiming that they had discovered a cluster of activities of interest associated with a "China state-sponsored cyber actor," known as Volt Typhoon, and these activities "affected networks across US critical infrastructure sectors."

In response, China's National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center (CVERC), National Engineering Laboratory for Computer Virus Prevention Technology and 360 Digital Security Group conducted a joint investigation and further analysis found that Volt Typhoon has more correlation with ransomware group and other cybercriminals.

After the release of the investigation report on "Volt Typhoon" in April this year, the Chinese joint investigation team continued to track the actions and intentions of the US in creating the "Volt Typhoon" false narrative.

"We conducted verification analysis based on the indicators of compromise (IoCs) of the so-called 'Volt Typhoon' organization in the US, and found that this organization is closely related to a ransomware criminal group called Dark Power disclosed by ThreatMon, a US cybersecurity vendor," a researcher from CVERC told the Global Times on Sunday.

The report directly quotes the content of the ThreatMon report and discloses the associated IP address information hidden behind the back cover image." The researcher said that after the release of the investigation report, the US side instructed ThreatMon to openly change the content of the report, the entire report has been expanded from 17 pages to 20 pages, but the crucial evidence of the associated IP address, which was originally located behind the back cover image, is now nowhere to be found.

The Global Times has sent an email to the US Embassy in China asking for comments on the contents revealed in the report. The US Embassy in China has not responded and had remained silent as of press time.

After CVERC released a report on April 15 disclosing the false narrative of "Volt Typhoon", the US Embassy in China and Microsoft which were contacted by the Global Times for comment and gave no response as of press time.

During a press conference on Monday, Lin Jian, spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the latest report further revealed that this disinformation campaign is conceived by NSA, FBI and other members of the US intelligence community with the participation of congressional China hawks and multiple federal agencies as well as cybersecurity agencies from other Five Eye countries, and aimed to manipulate public opinion.

Till this day, the US still owes us an explanation after the previous report was released, and the US NSA chief continues to spread disinformation about "Volt Typhoon," said Lin.

What is worse, the latest report exposed that the US government has been pressuring a cybersecurity company and asking it to rewrite its tech analysis that proves "Volt Typhoon" to be a ransomware group. This is a clumsy cover-up tactic and clearly has not and will not work, Lin said.

He noted that China strongly condemns the irresponsible behavior of the US. The US still owes us an explanation, and should stop its smears and vilification against China at once. We urge the US to act responsibly and contribute to the peace and security of the cyberspace.

ThreatMon did not respond to Global Times's inquiries about revising and changing the report as of press time.

Zhuo Hua, an expert on international affairs at the School of International Relations at Beijing Foreign Studies University told the Global Times on Monday that, "The new report more comprehensively exposes the US's intentions and operational process of framing China. China has mastered a complete chain of evidence, sufficient to prove that the so-called 'Volt Typhoon' is orchestrated by US intelligence agencies. Technically, it is self-produced and self-sold, and politically, it is a self-directed and self-acted international false narrative, which can be fully defined as a cognitive domain operation against China."

"In the field of international cybersecurity, the US is the least qualified to point fingers because it has no national credibility in this area. Over the past twenty years, the world has witnessed the US fabricate false intelligence to launch wars. Its intelligence agencies recklessly conduct cyber espionage and surveillance on countries, including its allies, deploy cyber weapons, and paralyze critical infrastructure of other countries through actual APT attacks. The US is the primary threat that supports cyberattacks with national power."

"Since China released the relevant investigation report in April, the US has not responded, precisely because the facts revealed by China and the US's actions in international cyberspace have left the US unable to respond," said Zhuo.

"Another alarming trend is that behind the 'Volt Typhoon' hype, we clearly see the motive of intelligence agencies to expand their powers, interest groups to squeeze Chinese companies out of the US infrastructure market, and anti-China politicians to emphasize 'national security.' This tacit understanding, even collusion, among various sectors—government, business, and finance—is leveraging the US strategy to contain China to gain political and economic benefits domestically. Once this atmosphere is formed, the US will undoubtedly concoct other incidents in the future, harming China's interests and China-US relations."

NATO summit in Washington 'outwardly tough but inwardly brittle'

While the US and Western leaders gathered in Washington to mark NATO's 75th anniversary on Tuesday, their efforts to showcase "strength" and "unity" are being overshadowed by increasing internal divisions on global issues, challenges in supporting Ukraine, uncertainties stemming from the upcoming US presidential election, and the rise of right-wing nationalism across Europe, which make analysts view this year's NATO summit as "outwardly tough but inwardly brittle."

The recent hype over the "China threat" by Western media ahead of the three-day NATO summit and accusations of China supporting Russia once again reveal the US' and NATO's intentions to extend their influence into the Asia-Pacific region for geopolitical gain. It underscores NATO's origins in the Cold War era, designed as a military tool to bolster US hegemony, which critics said only exacerbates global instability and discord.

Leaders of NATO's 32 member countries are scheduled to conduct a three-day summit in Washington, DC from Tuesday to Thursday. On its website, the US Department of State gave a full introduction about NATO and the summit, saying that the allies will discuss an important agenda that includes "affirming unwavering support for Ukraine," "strengthening deterrence and defense posture" and "ensuring Allies meet their commitments to invest in their own defense, as well as collective defense." 

The NATO summit aims to project "unity" and "shared interests" outwardly, but internally, there are increasing anxieties and worries among member countries, Cui Hongjian, a professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University's Academy of Regional and Global Governance, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

For example, the rise of far-right forces in Europe, political challenges faced by Germany and France and other core European countries, and the possible return of Donald Trump to the White House have all added uncertainties within NATO to reach consensus on major issues, Cui said.

The Tuesday summit came as some Democrats called on Joe Biden to step aside over his fitness and age, while Biden declined and defended his 2024 campaign. Also in Europe, there is a major political turmoil in France - although the left-wing parties' alliance won the decisive round of France's legislative election on Sunday night, a parliament without a majority may lead to uncertainty in France, according to media reports. 

Cui said that while this summit may ultimately seek political outcomes, it risks entanglement in internal discord. NATO hopes to demonstrate to the outside world that it is capable of forging a new consensus through overcoming divisions, but it is haunted by political fragility in both Europe and the US. "This makes this year's summit outwardly tough but inwardly brittle," Cui remarked.

On the webpage of the NATO summit, the US Department of State listed "affirming unwavering support for Ukraine" at the top of its agenda, and claims that "allies will be joined by Ukraine for a meeting" to advance their "strong support" for Ukraine and "close collaboration to help build a bridge to Ukraine's future membership." 

Some Western media reported that during the summit, NATO will announce a "historic" aid package to support Ukraine, including crucial air defense systems and 40 billion  euros ($43.3 billion) in military support for Ukraine each year. 

Since its last summit, NATO has adjusted its strategy to support Ukraine, aiming to integrate short-term aid into a long-term security framework with more systematic and consistent policies. This shift reflects NATO's concerns about the potential disruption of Ukrainian support due to political changes in the US and the EU, Cui said, noting that the discussion of a "bridge to membership" plan for Ukraine to NATO at the Washington summit underscores this adjustment.

However, these efforts are still deemed insufficient by Ukraine, and convincing member countries to allocate substantial aid to Ukraine remains challenging, especially as many of them are grappling with domestic economic contraction and energy crises, a Beijing-based military expert told the Global Times on condition of anonymity. 

The expert noted that the Ukrainian government has struggled to achieve decisive victories on the battlefield, disappointing several European countries and testing their patience and confidence in forming a unified front against Russia.

NATO shifts to Asia

Aside from the goal of presenting a united front against Russia, this week's NATO summit also aims to "send a warning to China," according to some Western media. They noted that NATO is set to discuss threats posed by China, including behavior in the South China Sea and actions on the Taiwan question. Moreover, for the third year in a row, the leaders of New Zealand, Japan and South Korea will attend the NATO summit. 

NATO is now trying to cater to the US' strategic interests and needs by amplifying the "China threat," in an attempt to address its existential crisis, Cui said. He noted that European countries hope the US will at least not abandon NATO for now and provide more security guarantees in the face of the "Russia threat" if Trump returns to the White House. 

Sun Chenghao, a fellow and head of the US-EU program at the Center for International Security and Strategy in Tsinghua University, said that the US and NATO have escalated accusations against China for allegedly supporting Russia, aiming to emphasize the perceived link between security in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. 

The US plans to promote NATO's expansion into Asia. However, it also recognizes that shifting NATO's focus solely through the Russia-Ukraine conflict is insufficient. Therefore, it is launching a series of actions and propaganda campaigns to amplify the perceived threat from China, said Sun. 

This strategy aims to heighten European countries' concerns about their own security, redirect their attention to the Asia-Pacific region, and provoke vigilance among European nations toward China, Sun told the Global Times. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said on Tuesday that "We firmly reject NATO's vilification and blame-shifting against China. NATO should not use China to justify its insertion into the Asia-Pacific and attempt to disrupt regional dynamics. China is a force for world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order. Our objective and just position and constructive role on the Ukraine crisis and international and regional hotspot issues are widely recognized by the international community."

"We urge NATO to form the right perception of China, get rid of its Cold War mentality and zero-sum approach, stop scaremongering on security and making imaginary enemies, stop forming exclusive clubs in the name of collective defense, and play a constructive role for global peace, stability and development," Lin said.

The US plan to build an "Asian version of NATO" has alarmed people in regional countries. For example, a recent global online poll conducted by Chinese media showed that 93.1 percent of global respondents believe that security in the Asia-Pacific region should be achieved through political dialogue and peaceful negotiations among Asia-Pacific countries and they firmly oppose the US creating an "Asian version of NATO." 

More efforts, investment needed to promote development of basic research, large scientific facilities in China: top physicist, legislator

The planning of large-scale scientific facilities and basic research requires long-term perspective and more investment, said Wang Yifang, director of the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), who is also a deputy to the 14th National People's Congress.

China has made remarkable achievements in the construction of large-scale scientific facilities after decades of development. If all projects planned in the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) are completed, China will have approximately 70 large scientific facilities, a number comparable to that of the US, Wang told the Global Times.

However, there is still a significant gap in terms of the investment scale for individual facility and the total investment scale compared to the US. Currently, China still lacks internationally leading specialized large scientific facilities, especially in the fields of particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy, he stressed.

"This puts us at a disadvantage compared to some other countries in certain areas, such as astronomical telescopes and particle accelerators. Therefore, I believe that in the future, we should focus on improving the quality of development rather than increasing the quantity of large scientific facilities in order to compete directly with advanced countries and strive to surpass them," Wang said.

"Without large scientific facilities, basic research would be just an idea on paper. We mustn't always be a recipient of knowledge, but should grow into a provider of knowledge and leader in global basic research," Wang said.

China has been paying more attention to strengthening basic research, as it is not only a cornerstone for achieving greater self-reliance and strength in science and technology, but the foundation for solving many bottleneck technologies. In the face of fierce international scientific and technological competition, Wang stressed that increasing funding for basic scientific research is a priority.

According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, in 2022, the country's investment in basic research accounted for 6.57 percent of total research and development (R&D) spending, while the goal according to the 14th Five-Year Plan is 8 percent by 2025, which Wang said requires more efforts to realize.

Wang called for long-term perspective when planning research investment, looking ahead to the situation in 10, 15, or even 20 years.

Taking the construction of China's Circular Electron-Positron Collider (CEPC) as an example, we have to be clear that the construction period for the CEPC is 10 years. If we do not start now, China will lag behind others in this field in 10 years' time, Wang said.
A window to new physical world

The CEPC is a large international scientific facility proposed by the Chinese particle physics community in 2012. The project, to be hosted in China in a circular underground tunnel of approximately 100 kilometers in circumference, is a double-ring collider with electron and positron beams circulated in opposite directions in separate beam pipes, and the detectors are installed at two interaction points, according to the CAS.

The CEPC's "Technical Design Report" has gone through international review and was officially published in December, 2023. Being able to independently design such a large scientific facility demonstrates Chinese scientists' capabilities, according to Wang.

In the next step, the scientists will proceed with the engineering design and integrate the completed components, according to Wang. "We have completed the construction of a single prototype, and the next step is to figure out how to mass-produce individual products. In addition, we will continue to conduct in-depth research on some key technical details to ensure that our facility achieves optimal performance and cost-effectiveness."

It will take about three more years before the CEPC can begin actual construction, with the entire construction period lasting approximately 10 years, Wang noted.

The location for the CEPC has not yet been decided, according to Wang. "The ideal construction site should meet the following conditions: first, geological conditions, the CEPC should be built on intact and solid underground rock. Second, the construction site of the CEPC should consider factors such as transportation conditions, humanistic environment and educational environment, as the CEPC will serve as an international research base in the future, it should have an open environment that attracts talents from various countries and regions to work there," Wang explained.

The CEPC project will reportedly cost 36 billion yuan ($4.9 billion) and will have a circumference of 100 kilometers, with center-mass energy of up to 240 giga electron-volts, both setting a world record.

The goal of the CEPC is to build a high-luminosity Higgs factory. The existing standard model of physics is imperfect and has many inconsistencies, we need to find the fundamental reasons for them and Higgs is believed by global physicists to be the best window to find these loopholes, Wang explained.

In terms of controversies over the project, Wang responded that "in terms of science, I think we have made relevant issues very clear; in terms of techniques, we have proven through a large amount of experimental data, prototypes and the high-energy synchrotron radiation light source we are building in Huairou, that we have the ability to design and construct such a large scientific facility."

As to the cost, Wang stressed that CEPC is a facility to be used by the whole community of high-energy physics. There will be thousands of scientists working for decades. Considering this, the average investment per scientist per year would be far from being high. "Thousands of high-energy physicists are willing to invest all their energy, funds and time in a single facility, the average cost will not be higher than that of other research fields," he said.
'It relies on human intelligence to drive scientific progress'

In recent years, the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and products have created a stir around the world, especially after the release of the up-to-one-minute-long realistic videos created by the text-to-video AI generator Sora in early February.

According to OpenAI's explainer, Sora is capable of generating complex scenes with accurate details, including multiple characters, specific types of movements, themes and backgrounds. It understands not only what the user requests in the prompts, but also how these things exist in the physical world.

In fact, there has been a long-existing debate over whether AI can really understand - rather than imitate - physical laws and whether they can help discover new laws.

As a top physicist in China, Wang said it may be difficult for AI to break this barrier.

The most fundamental cornerstone of AI technology is the ability to predict the future to some extent through learning, but this so-called prediction is linear and based on existing knowledge. However, physics rules, especially new discoveries and concepts, are not simple extension of existing knowledge and data, Wang said.

After all it still requires scientific research and human intelligence to drive scientific progress, Wang said.