HK LegCo passes landmark bill in 'historic moment' to tackle national security loopholes

Hong Kong lawmakers unanimously passed the highly anticipated bill mandated by Article 23 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong on Tuesday following marathon sessions during which all lawmakers expressed their strong support for the law, which was first proposed more than 20 years ago. It is expected to play a crucial role in addressing the city's national security loopholes, forming a solid national security shield with the National Security Law (NSL) for Hong Kong by preventing the US-led West's subversion, infiltration, incitement and espionage activities in the city.

The bill will be gazetted on Saturday and will take effect from then, John Lee, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) said after the voting.

Today is a historic moment for Hong Kong, a historic moment when the sixth-term government of the HKSAR and the seventh LegCo finally accomplished their glorious mission together, and a proud moment when the HKSAR jointly writes a glorious history, Lee said, noting that the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance was passed in its third reading, effectively ensuring national security.

The law enables Hong Kong to effectively prevent, suppress and punish espionage activities, conspiracies and traps from foreign intelligence agencies, and infiltration and sabotage by hostile forces, Lee said.

We can effectively prevent "black-clad violence" and "color revolution." We can effectively prevent "Hong Kong independence" and violent destruction, he added.

The Legislative Council (LegCo) of the HKSAR resumed the second reading of the bill on Tuesday where 88 legislators spoke in turn, and all expressed support for the legislation.

The HKSAR government has been advancing the Article 23 legislation in an unprecedented way by launching a public consultation at the end of January which concluded on February 28. The draft bill of Safeguarding National Security Ordinance was gazetted on March 8, and the LegCo conducted the first and second readings the same day.

Since then, the LegCo convened the Bill Committee meeting, spending 44 hours over seven consecutive days to complete the review of 181 articles and 40 amendments. By Saturday, the government submitted amendments to the LegCo, and no member proposed further amendments to the government's revisions.

Ahead of the voting process in the second reading, Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung said the draft ordinance is the result of the collective efforts of all sectors of Hong Kong society and also represents the government's endeavor in advancing the Article 23 legislation.

"At a time when national security faces serious threats, it is imperative to complete the legislative work as quickly as possible, establish a comprehensive system and execution mechanism for maintaining national security, and not allow hostile forces to have the opportunity to obstruct and sabotage the legislative process," Lau Siu-kai, a consultant from the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies who is also a senior policy advisor, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, the Commissioner's Office of China's Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong and the central government's liaison office in the city all voiced the support and congratulation on Tuesday on the passing of the Article 23 bill, which will further solidify the foundation for the city's development.

The Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People's Congress Standing Committee said on Tuesday the passing of the Article 23 bill is a significant move taken by the HKSAR to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities for maintaining national security. It is a tangible outcome of fully implementing the lawful duties of safeguarding national security, and it is worthy of full recognition.

Overwhelming support

Many government officials and members wore purple clothing and accessories, the theme color for Article 23, to show their support at the LegCo on Tuesday. Elementary school students were present in the public gallery of the LegCo chamber to observe and witness the historic moment of the Article 23 legislation.

Elizabeth Quat Pei-fan, who spoke at the second reading, told the Global Times on Tuesday that in her speech, she elaborated on how the social unrest in 2019 made everyone realize that the risk to national security has always been present, and foreign forces have long been plotting against Hong Kong.

"Hong Kong must legislate Article 23 as soon as possible, as protecting national security is our constitutional responsibility, to ensure the safety of life and property of every resident and their freedom from fear, and because only with security and stability can Hong Kong seek development," she said.

National security laws are not something that are unique to Hong Kong. They are a global standard, and a crucial element for any society that holds dear its peace and its people's safety, legislator Dominic Lee Tsz-king said during the second reading.

"That is why I find it so hypocritical when Western politicians like Chris Patten and David Cameron criticized our legislation while turning a blind eye to similar, more severe laws in their own country… And its ally, the US, even has more than 20 pieces of legislation that are related to National Security," he said.

Dominic Lee Tsz-king told the Global Times on Tuesday that overall atmosphere of the session was good as all the lawmakers expressed their support for the law.

The draft bill, titled Safeguarding National Security Ordinance, includes 91 amendments, covering the revision of the definition of "international organizations," the revision of the scope of public officials, amendments related to crimes involving state secrets and espionage activities and clarifies the meanings of "public infrastructure" and "public services" in the provisions concerning activities that endanger national security.

The amendments include revising the name and related articles of the crime of external interference, organizations involved in activities that endanger national security, law enforcement powers and other investigatory matters, fugitives of crimes that endanger national security, and the mechanisms for maintaining national security and related safeguards.

"Those revisions were mainly made in consideration of constructive suggestions proposed by members of the LegCo, resulting in appropriate modifications," Willy Fu, director of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies and vice-president of the Hong Kong Basic Law Education Association, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, a lawmaker from the New People's Party believes that the original draft's definition of "international organizations" was not ideal. She said during the LegCo session that she appreciated that local authorities accepted suggestions to remove redundant wording, making the definition of "external force" more concise after the amendment.

Historic moment

Not only did some legislators tell the Global Times on Tuesday that they feel the honor of witnessing this historic moment, some experts said it is encouraging that this nearly "27-year overdue constitutional answer sheet" has finally entered its final step despite a continued smear and criticism campaign from the US-led West.

Hong Kong's Deputy Secretary for Justice Cheung Kwok-kwan is scheduled to attend the 55th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council this week, which, some experts said, will also be a major platform to clarify some misunderstandings about the legislation.

Those amendments aim to clarify certain concepts, such as the definitions of state secrets, external forces and incitement, and to allow, in some aspects, public interest to serve as a defense argument, alleviating some concerns of the media, academic and business communities, Lau noted.

"The main purpose of the law is to prevent the US and Western forces from engaging in subversion, infiltration, incitement and espionage activities in Hong Kong, building a shield for national security together with the NSL for Hong Kong," the expert said.

China’s issuing ultra-long special treasury bonds to fund major projects of development and security infrastructure: NDRC head

China’s issuance of ultra-long special treasury bonds in the coming years to come is a major policy to boost consumption and support long-term high-quality development, Zheng Shanjie, head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planner, said on Wednesday.

The proceeds from the bonds will be used to support technological innovation, urban-rural integrated development, coordinated regional development, food and energy security, and high-quality development, the areas of long investment cycles but currently facing insufficient existing funding channels, Zheng said.

The government will issue ultra-long special treasury bonds over each of the next several years for the purpose of implementing major national strategies and building up security capacity in key areas, starting with 1 trillion yuan of such bonds this year, according to the Government Work Report submitted Tuesday to the National People’s Congress for deliberation.

It is necessary to issue the ultra-long bonds in response to profound changes at home and abroad and it will help China to balance development and security, and firmly promote high-quality development and Chinese modernization, he said.

Zheng said that the NDRC is making concrete plans to oversee key projects and regulate funding to ensure that the policy is effectively implemented, adding efforts will be made to expand effective investment, including government investment and the expansion of private investment.

Aside from the ultra-long treasury bonds, this year's investments from the central government budget and issuance of new local government special bonds have substantially risen year-on-year. Also, the bulk of the additional 1-trillion-yuan government bonds issued late last year will be used this year.

Zheng also said that the NDRC will make maximum efforts to encourage and support private enterprises to participate in major national projects and to address the weak links across the economy.

Development of Xinjiang impresses Pakistani media and think tank representatives

During a five-day on-site visit to Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, 15 representatives from media and think tanks in Pakistan witnessed the development situation in the region. One of the most impressive aspects for them was the development of Muslims in Xinjiang and the religious freedom they enjoy, according to journalists and scholars who spoke to the Global Times. They called for more people who have misunderstandings about Xinjiang to visit the region.

In Xinjiang, the delegation visited the Id Kah Mosque in Kashi and the Xinjiang Islamic Institute in Urumqi, and stayed, observed, and talked at length to the Imam and the director at these two religious facilities. 

The Id Kah Mosque is located in the old town of Kashi. It has a long history and is also a representative example of Uygur architectural art. In recent years, the Chinese government has allocated a large amount of funds to renovate the mosque, providing good conditions for religious believers. The Xinjiang Islamic Institute was established in June 1987 and currently has a student body of around 1,000. It is the only religious higher education institution in Xinjiang and has eight branch campuses.

"Everyone has heard so many of the propaganda stories against Xinjiang," Moiz Farooq, an executive editor of Daily Ittehad Media Group, told the Global Times. "Now finally we have seen the truth, and it is great to say that seeing is believing."

Farooq said that he is particularly impressed by the fact that there are currently about 1,000 students studying full-time at the Xinjiang Islam Institute, where they receive an undergraduate education and a BA degree and a job in the religious field after graduation. 

"It is very happy for me to see the Muslims in Xinjiang are enjoying all the freedom," he said. "They have freedom to practice in religion over here, with the best facilities in the institute."

After the visits to the Id Kah Mosque and the Xinjiang Islam Institute, Yasir Habib Khan also said that he has gained a clearer understanding of China's policy on religious freedom. 

"In accordance with Chinese law, every religion is treated equally, which is very encouraging," he said. "Some Western media have repeatedly attempted to demonize China and fabricate false information about Chinese Muslims, but seeing is believing - Muslims in Xinjiang can fully engage in normal religious activities according to Islamic doctrines."

"Setting foot on the ground and making close observations in Xinjiang, it is testified that Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang are completely free to live their normal lives practicing Islam in its true spirit," Khan wrote in his column.

"Those who make unfounded remarks should come to Xinjiang in person and see the real situation here," he said.

Sayed Kalbe Ali Naqvi, a senior reporter from Dawn newspaper, also noted that the real Xinjiang is far different from the false propaganda and portrayals by Western media. 

In the past, he thought Xinjiang was a small and underdeveloped border town, as is described in many foreign media reports. But upon setting foot on this land, he discovered that it is much more prosperous and lively than he imagined, with a vast territory and a large population. 

Naz Parveen, editor of the Daily Kasoti and The Window of China, described snow-covered Urumqi as romantic - with winding flyovers and towering buildings not far from hazy snow-capped mountains, far surpassing her imagination. 

"The development of Urumqi is beyond imagination," said Fahd Gauhar Malik, editor of Pakistan Observer, who had previously learned about Xinjiang mainly through media reports. Upon arrival, he discovered that Urumqi is filled with high-rise buildings, well-developed infrastructure, and people living and working in peace and contentment, completely the opposite to the so-called "backwardness" reported by Western media. 

"I can see that people living in Urumqi are very happy," he said.

"Beautiful Xinjiang deserves to be promoted to the world," said Mahzaib Abbasi, a Pakistani online influencer who has been living and studying in China for seven years. "I want to share the wonderful experience in Urumqi as soon as possible and showcase the real Xinjiang through my videos."

During their five-day visit to Xinjiang, a delegation of 15 representatives from Pakistani media and think tanks also visited Kashi Old Town, Jiashi water safety engineering facilities, a prune industrial park, Xinjiang Mustang Ecological Park, the Urumqi International Land Port Zone, and the International Grand Bazaar.

The delegation visited China from December 6 to 16, travelling from Beijing to Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, and Kashi and Urumqi in Xinjiang.

‘Band of Brothers’ re-launched on streaming platforms in Chinese mainland

The epic World War II HBO mini-series Band of Brothers recently made a return to Chinese screens, and is now available for streaming on video platforms such as Bilibili, Tencent Video, and Sohu Video. This re-release brings the critically acclaimed series back to the forefront for both longtime fans and a new generation of viewers in China.

Since its release on Bilibili, one of China's most active streaming websites, on Monday night, Band of Brothers has received more than 17,000 subscriptions from the platform's users and rated at 9.9 out of 10. More than 1,000 viewers simultaneously caught the show at around Tuesday midnight.
Produced by celebrated duo Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, Band of Brothers is an adaptation of historian Stephen E. Ambrose's novel by the same name.

The series offers an in-depth portrayal of the experiences of the Easy Company, part of the 101st Airborne Division during World War II, following the journey of officers and soldiers from conducting training in Georgia, to diving headlong into action in Normandy, surviving in Holland and Belgium, and eventually occupying Hitler's Eagle Nest.

At the time a relatively unknown Damian Lewis brilliantly headlined as Major Richard Winters, while Ron Livingston portrayed Winters' close friend Captain Lewis Nixon, whose striking resemblance to the character, coupled with his exquisite acting, continue to be lauded to this day.

Since its original premiere in 2001, the series has been lauded for its authentic battle scenes, deeply moving character developments, and the depiction of the soldiers' "bromance."

In 2003, the series was dubbed with Chinese and broadcast on China Central Television, attracting widespread attention and cementing its status as a classic in the eyes of a generation of Chinese audiences. To this day, it is still praised as one of "the must-watch American TV series," and is rated at a 9.6 out of 10 on Douban, China's version of iMDb.
"This series explores the complex relationship between war, humanity, and courage from a unique perspective. While lamenting the brutality of war, it also allows one to appreciate the brilliance of human nature," a netizen commented on Bilibili. "I still remember the scene when I watched this series as a child; it was incredibly shocking to me back then," said another.

Both new and returning viewers were pleasantly surprised to find some familiar faces in the series - actors who were then newcomers and have since become big stars, such as Michael Fassbender, Simon Pegg, James McAvoy, Andrew Scott, and others.

In September, Band of Brothers was made available on Netflix, along with another HBO war-themed mini-series The Pacific. The two iconic series' sequel, Masters of the Air, will be released in early 2024, media sources reported.

This re-launch on various streaming platforms enables a new generation of viewers to experience the series' powerful impact and historical significance. It also serves as a bridge to understanding the global efforts, including those of China and the US, in the anti-fascist war. The availability of Band of Brothers enriches cultural exchanges and mutual historical recognition between nations, honoring the shared legacy of those who fought in World War II, analysts said.

Chile: Ambassador attends the CFSE in East China’s Qingdao

The 26th China Fisheries and Seafood Expo (CFSE) held in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province between October 25 and 27 was the event's first offline appearance since the epidemic.

Ambassador of Chile to China Mauricio Hurtado, and Natalia Cortes, Trade Commissioner of ProChile Beijing, attended this year's CFSE. In her remarks, Cortes noted the high nutritional value, safety and healthy qualities of Chilean seafood, pointing out that it has obtained all the most important international certifications. She mentioned the great importance Chile attached to CFSE as a platform, arranging every year for Chilean enterprises and industry associations to make the long journey from Latin America to take part. Cortes said she was looking forward to everyone enjoying a taste of Chilean seafood and learning more about the country's cuisine, wines, and culture.

The Chilean Pavilion with 13 Chilean seafood enterprises alongside Chile Mussel, has been a big draw at this year's CFSE. This is the first time Chilean companies have come to China to take part in the CFSE in person in the post-COVID era. They look forward to taking this opportunity to interact face-to-face with Chinese friends old and new in the sector, to better understand the latest developments in the local market and optimize the quality of their products and services.

High-quality BRI cooperation brings real benefits for Malaysia, says former envoy

Noting that bilateral relations are at their historical best, former Malaysian ambassador to China Dato Abdul Majid said he hopes that China can cultivate more talent for Malaysia via high-quality Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) cooperation so as to further promote Malaysia-China ties in the next 50 years, in a recent interview with the Global Times in Kuala Lumpur.

Majid stressed that Malaysia is one of the earliest countries to support the BRI, and multiple Malaysian prime ministers have been very supportive in the past three BRI summits held in Beijing.

In the eyes of Majid who served in China for a total of 12 years, China is very strong in industrialization and many countries are expecting vocational training via working with China. "I think many countries require this. Malaysia also needs it because we are now reaching a certain level of industrialization. We need a lot of training for talented people at a sub-professional level. I think China can offer this, and I think this could be part of the BRI."

The veteran diplomat said that in the early stages, there was some confusion among local Malaysians as large swaths of land seized by Chinese companies caused concern. But they have learned that not only does China boost the domestic market, it also creates employment, so people have started to get past their early misconceptions about China. Also, local people realized that they were not fully utilizing local resources, labor and raw materials, said Majid.

The former ambassador noted that all the Chinese factories coming to Malaysia have improved their operations, bringing positive effects for local people. He cited the example of the China-built East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), saying that it has linked four very underdeveloped areas and now serves as an economic corridor.

"I am happy to see that the project is moving fast now. Once it gets completed, the traffic flow will be easier for people from the West coast to the East, which used to take seven to eight hours," he said.

The ECRL project is a catalyst that can balance the economy of the East Coast with the West Coast because the rail infrastructure can stimulate investment and commercial activities, offer job opportunities and boost the tourism sector and the manufacturing sector in the states of the East Coast Economic Region, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said at the launch of the construction of the railway's first station in Kelantan state in May, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The Friends of the Silk Road club, organized by the Majid-chaired Malaysia-China Friendship Association, was invited to the construction line with local media, NGOs and residents in March to inspect the landmark Belt and Road project. "We find the environmental assessment is also doing well; it minimizes the impact on local ecology," Majid told the Global Times.

Majid said that Ibrahim's "Malaysia Madani" - a policy framework that focuses on good governance and sustainable development - chimes with the China-proposed Global Civilization Initiative and the idea of a community with a shared future.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Malaysia comprehensive strategic partnership, and next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. Earlier this year, Ibrahim paid a successful visit to China and reached a consensus with Chinese leaders on building a China-Malaysia community of a shared future.

The current bilateral ties are "very healthy and very substantive in terms of cooperation," Majid said.

"We have established a very strong foundation. We have created trust between the two countries. Before, we probably got about 4 million Chinese here in terms of tourists, students, business, people. We hope with the re-opening of China's border, it can go back to the pre-COVID time," said Majid, noting that he expects the relationship can be extended to a higher level.

As the longest-serving Malaysian ambassador to China, Majid deeply appreciates the rapid process of modernization in China since 1981. He has witnessed how China has transitioned from having old and slow trains to becoming the leading country in high-speed rail services.

"But the most important thing is people's lives - the colors of China have changed from predominantly blue or gray to being so colorful today," he said.

When discussing the impressions of young Malaysians toward China, Majid emphasizes a division between them - there is a group of young people who have trade relations with China and have visited the country, so they are familiar with China and have a more positive and optimistic perception. "On the other hand, there is another group who have never been to China and are more inclined toward Western values due to colonial history, so they do not have a true understanding of the real China."

Majid also hopes for more opportunities for communication to allow these people to see an objective and authentic China in order to eliminate misunderstandings. This is also what the Malaysia-China Friendship Association is working toward.

"Now we want to expose our member students to three things - China's rich culture, China's changes, and the modernization of China. Because in earlier times, there were a lot of misconceptions that China is still in the '80s or 70s'. Our focus is to show the real China," Majid said.

"It's important for the younger generation to understand the harmony and understanding between different civilizations and different economic systems," Majid said. "Because I think we cannot deny China is going to play a big role. China has done very well, and we truly need to learn from it."

Cutting off tech cooperation only makes everyone worse off

Gina Raimondo, Commerce Secretary of the US, has left China "with optimism" after a four-day visit, during which she had high-level talks with Chinese officials. To re-open lines of communication in the economic and business sector after five years of stagnation is, to some extent, "progress." The world has heard clearly that Washington does not "intend to decouple from China or work to 'hold back' the world's second-largest economy." 

When she told the media that actions speak louder than words, the Secretary ought to know that this could be the same expectation from the Chinese side. How will the US proceed with its numerous export control measures and carry out its executive order on outbound investment in sensitive technologies of critical sectors? What will be the actions that could turn those much repeated words like "no intention to hold back China" into reality?

In the eyes of ordinary Chinese, what the US has been doing in recent years is exactly holding China back by all means, including cutting off technological exchanges and cooperation. The motive is obvious, because to strangle the runner-up is a time-honored trick written in the playbook of the US. But not only does this mentality and the behavior that follows run counter to the law of technology revolution, it does not seem to work out. What is worse, it is not beneficial to the overall development of human society. 

As a coincidence, on the day when Ms. Raimondo was departing from China, Huawei, the Chinese tech giant sanctioned by the US, launched the latest version of its smartphone. The chip in it is wholly Chinese-made. This might frustrate those behind the Huawei-ban. And it should also serve as a reminder that technological progress is governed by its own law. At a time when the world is so closely interrelated and innovative ideas are abundant everywhere, it is almost impossible to stifle anyone. Same as the Wolf Amendment to ban scientific cooperation with China in space didn't stop China from achieving rapid progress in aeronautics back in the day, the export control on high-end chips today will not stop China from acquiring cutting-edge technologies.

Given that China is already a key, indispensable player in global technological exchanges, it is almost impossible to cut off all ties with the country. Any such attempt might spill over to affect the international society. Take 5G in Europe as an example. According to a 5G Observatory Report sponsored by the European Commission, Cyprus now ranks first in the EU with a 100 percent population coverage of 5G, whereas the levels of 5G coverage in Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Belgium, and Romania are relatively low. The UK is no exception. What is the difference in real-life experience? Well, in Cyprus you could surf at a speed as fast as you could imagine, while in London, you just have to wait on the line.

How come the difference? Cyprus is one of the countries in Europe that made its own choice to install the most suitable communication equipment, provided by Chinese suppliers. It did not follow the Commission's recommendation or the so-called Prague Proposals led by the US warning governments not to rely on 5G technology that may be "influenced by a third country." Some governments may choose to blindly follow the decisions of other countries and forcibly cut off scientific and technological cooperation due to political reasons. But it is their people that will bear the cost of technological regression.

The same mentality of holding China back is coming to the front row again as the Biden administration is considering whether to renew US-China Science and Technology Agreement (STA). This 44-year-old accord has paved the way for sound interactions between the two countries and was meant to promote progress of science and technology for both sides and the world. Ever since 1979 and under the STA framework, China and the US have jointly participated in the world's largest nuclear fusion project, and strengthened cooperation in climate change, environmental protection and public health. Mutual trust and understanding was built up, and solutions to global challenges were explored. This is the kind of arrangement that benefits all and hurts none. The renewal, as what should happen, is the right choice.

However, sticking a shining label of "anti-China" to their forehead, some US politicians blindly put geopolitical competition at the top of their game, ignoring the actual interests of the US government and people. Even though scientists have warned many times that cutting off scientific research links between China and the US due to so-called "security concerns" may slow down the efforts in biotechnology, clean energy, telecommunications and other key areas in the US, the China-hawks are reluctant to truly figure out who is to benefit from cooperation with China. 

Any wise head can understand that scientific and technological cooperation will stimulate more inspiration and motivation in various ways. What the US should consider is how it can rely on its own scientific and technological strength and talent advantages to maintain its competitive edge, rather than imposing sanctions and isolating others. It is fine if the US is feeling well in its small yard of national security. But who knows when the fences surrounding that yard will be torn down, by the mighty torrent of time?

Escalating India-Canada spat highlights hypocrisy of US values-based alliances

In June of this year, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent Sikh leader as well as a Canadian citizen, was shot dead in Canada. Canada recently accused India of being involved in the assassination and kicked out an Indian diplomat, who Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly described as the head of the Indian intelligence agency in the country. In response, India promptly announced that it had expelled a senior Canadian diplomat based in India, rejecting Canada's allegations and calling them "absurd and motivated."

In recent years, disputes between India and Canada have been centered around the Sikh community in Canada, which opposes the Modi government and advocates for Sikh rights. The Sikh community is a minority ethnic group in India with a population of just over 20 million. In Canada, which is one of the largest immigrant settlements for Sikhs worldwide, the Sikh community wields significant political, commercial and economic influence. The resurgence of the separatist Khalistan movement in recent years has become a major point of contention between India and Canada, severely impacting their bilateral relations. The ongoing tussle between the two countries has put India-Canada relations further at stake.

Observers generally believe that the lack of a meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 summit in New Delhi is a signal of danger in the relationship between the two countries. Now, both countries are escalating mutual accusations and expelling diplomats, further exposing the vulnerability of the so-called value-based alliance system led by the US.

Western countries claim to be defenders of human rights and often criticize other nations for their human rights issues. Their praise for India's so-called "democracy" is primarily driven by geopolitical interests and the desire to include India in their anti-China alliance. Western elites are well aware of the substantial differences between India's so-called "democracy" and their own. Many individuals in the West do not support India's religious and minority policies.

Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute of Tsinghua University, told the Global Times that the West, especially the US, in recent years has been waving the banner of common values of democracy and freedom, attempting to develop comprehensive cooperation with India in order to contain China. They are willing to turn a blind eye to what they think are India's human rights abuses and infringement on domestic ethnic minorities, which exposes the hypocrisy of the Western alliance with India based on their so-called common values.

Noticeably, whether Westerners genuinely consider India as a democratic country like themselves is questionable. It's just that currently India is useful to Westerners, so they take advantage of the situation, said Zhao Gancheng, a research fellow from the Shanghai Institute for International Studies.

As a key member of the Western alliance and a long-standing ally of the US, Canada has played an important role for the US in establishing a so-called rules-based international order and promoting its Indo-Pacific Strategy. However, the alliance currently being formed by the US, including India, is facing increasing embarrassment. This once again demonstrates the vulnerability of the US in building such alliances and the inappropriateness of ideological alliances in the context of the development trends of the times, neglecting the diversity of national interests. Both India and Canada have expelled senior officials from each other, and if the India-Canada relationship continues to deteriorate, the US might quickly step in to "mediate." After all, for the US, intervening in Canada's affairs is a familiar and easy task.

Synthesizing COVID-19 mutations technically possible, but difficult: expert

With the development of molecular biology and synthetic biology, human beings have gained the capability to synthesize viruses. However, it remains difficult to synthesize new viruses in a laboratory, an expert was quoted as saying by Jiankang Shibao (Health Times) on Sunday.        

An undercover video recently went viral online, in which a top Pfizer executive claimed that the biotech firm has been considering mutating COVID-19 in order to preemptively create new vaccines, according to media reports. The authenticity of the video had not been confirmed.  

“Allegations have recently been made related to gain of function and directed evolution research at Pfizer and the company would like to set the record straight,” Pfizer said on January 27. 

There are strict ethical restrictions on the study of viruses to prevent any possible leakage and to ensure the safety of experimental research, Zhao Wei, director of the biosafety research center of the School of Public Health, Southern Medical University, told the Health Times.

In an article titled “Challenges of ethical review in the development of COVID-19 vaccines and new drugs” written by Wu Qiong and other co-authors from the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), it said that clinical trials around the world must be in line with the Declaration of Helsinki and approved by ethics committees, according to Health Times.

During the Ebola pandemic, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine identified seven ethical requirements for experimental research including scientific and social values, respect for individuals, community participation and concern for the welfare and interests of participants, said the report.