Rescue efforts pour into NW China as quake death toll reaches 127

Rescue and disaster relief forces, medical teams and urgent supplies are pouring into Northwest China's Gansu Province and the neighboring Qianghai Province after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake jolted a Gansu county at a depth of 10 kilometers at 11:59 pm Monday, causing 127 deaths as of press time.

More than 700 people were injured in the two provinces and dozens more were reported missing; more than 155,000 houses were damaged or collapsed, according to media reports. Infrastructure related to water, electricity, telecommunication, and roads around the epicenter of Jishishan county of Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu have also been damaged to varying degrees.

President Xi Jinping has urged all-out search and rescue efforts and proper arrangements for affected people to ensure the safety of people's lives and property. He also urged allocation of relief supplies to the affected regions as soon as possible, repair of damaged infrastructure such as electricity, communications, transportation and heating, and proper accommodation of the affected people to ensure their basic living needs, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday.    

The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Emergency Management allocated on Tuesday 200 million yuan ($28 million) of central emergency response fund to the quake-stricken areas.

The State Council's Earthquake Relief Command and the Ministry of Emergency Management have raised the national earthquake emergency response to Level II. The national disaster relief emergency response has also been elevated to Level III.

A Y-20 large transport aircraft from the Air Force of the People's Liberation Army Western Theater Command arrived in Lanzhou, capital city of Gansu, on Tuesday noon to deliver the emergency command group and supplies.

China's home-developed Wing Loong-2H emergency relief unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) have also been deployed, the Global Times learned from the Aviation Industry Corporation of China. Upon arrival at the disaster zone, the drones will carry out emergency communication support and disaster reconnaissance, among other tasks.

More than 1,500 firefighters, 1,500 police officers, and 1,000 PLA soldiers have been dispatched to the disaster-stricken area, Gansu authorities revealed. Coordinating departments also urgently transported the first batch of emergency supplies to the affected region, including cotton tents, folding beds, blankets, stoves, and more.

The National Health Commission (NHC) sent out a team of medical experts and ordered medical teams from nearby provinces to assist the affected region. More than 100 ambulances were dispatched to transfer the injured.

NHC is working together with local medical staff to systematically screen for hidden injuries, and has already developed individualized diagnosis and treatment plans.

A total of 386 medics from hospitals within Gansu have formed 19 teams to aid the rescue and treatment in Jishishan county and other places in Linxia prefecture.

According to Xinhua, 279 out of 314 telecommunication base stations in Jishishan county have resumed operation and power supply returned for 88 percent of local households as of Tuesday afternoon.

At a temporary shelter in Dahe village, Jishishan coutnty, the Global Times saw local government staff preparing hot food, drinks and instant noodles for victims. About 130 tents were built and each can accommodate five people.

Dahejia Middle School is located in the severely affected Jishishan county. The school principal, surnamed Ma, told the media that all 2,100 students and 190 teachers have safely returned home without injuries. "We have conducted frequent drills at our school for fire and earthquake safety. In critical situations, our teachers were able to quickly evacuate the students," Ma said, adding that more than 1,500 students and all the teachers in school live on campus.

The principal recalled that when the tremor began late Monday night, they first heard a loud bang and then realized that the entire building was shaking. "The teachers soon found that many doors couldn't be opened as they were deformed by the quake. Several male teachers worked together to strike open all the doors." As the school lost power amid the quake, students helped each other by shaking everyone awake, while the teachers ran into each dormitory to evacuate the students. "It only took about 5 minutes to evacuate the entire school," Ma said.

Preliminary analysis of the cause of the earthquake indicates a thrust rupture. Within a 200-kilometer radius of the epicenter, there have been three quakes measuring magnitude 6 or higher since 1900.

There also remains possibility of strong aftershocks with magnitude 5 or higher in the epicenter in the coming days, based on seismic zone analysis, local officials in Gansu warned.

Hours after the quake in Gansu, another 5.5-magnitude quake struck the city of Artux in the neighboring Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region at 9:46 am on Tuesday, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center. No casualties have been reported as of press time.

Relief complex

Analysts explained that the relatively large casualties and losses resulted from its high intensity and the shallow depth of epicenter. The seismic resistance of the affected-region's buildings is lower than that of the developed regions, the epicenter is a densely populated county, and the timing of midnight also aggravated the situation.

Secondary disasters also pose challenges to the disaster relief. Mountain landslide occurred in a village in Minhe county neighboring Jishishan, which trapped residents and buried several houses.

Yan Wei, deputy director of China's civilian rescue organization the Blue Sky Rescue Team's Gansu branch, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the disaster situation in the local region is severe as 70 to 80 percent of the houses have collapsed in areas around the epicenter.

Yan said that local communication and transportation were also damaged to different degrees, but rescue vehicles are still able to reach the epicenter despite the damages.

Experts reached by the Global Times also warned that the sweeping cold wave and the drastic drop in temperatures have posed another major challenge. The typical golden rescue time window for earthquakes is 72 hours, but this time it is likely to be shortened due to the bitter cold weather, analysts said.

The temperatures drop to -14 C at night, which is a big problem, said Yan. "Many villagers were left without shelters after their houses collapsed. The rescue forces, right after arrival, started building hundreds of tents. They also provided instant noodles and hot water. The situation is improving."

Chinese netizens express support as national team athlete Wu disqualified and issues apology over false start

After disqualification in the 100m hurdles final sparked widespread discussion, Chinese national team athlete Wu Yanni posted an apology on Monday, expressing respect for the referee's final decision, and a determination to face failure and start over. 

Chinese netizens expressed support for Wu and encouraged her to prepare better for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

According to media reports, an unexpected incident occurred in the women's 100m hurdles final at the Hangzhou Asian Games on Sunday. After the gun went off, Wu appeared to have set off early. 

Following discussion, the referees decided to let all the athletes compete first and make the judgment afterwards. In the end, Chinese athlete Lin Yuwei crossed the finish line first with a time of 12.74 seconds, achieving a personal best. Wu closely followed with a time of 12.77 seconds, finishing second. However, the referee panel ultimately made the decision to disqualify Wu from the event.

"I am very sorry that my result was disqualified due to a false start, disappointing everyone's expectations. I deeply apologize to all my friends who have supported me and to the competitors in tonight's race. I respect the referee's final decision, respect the rules and the competition, and congratulate my teammates and opponents who finished the race," Wu wrote on her official account on Weibo, Chinese Twitter-like social media platform. 

After the race, my coach and I have conducted a preliminary review. I need to improve my starting technique and adjust my mentality. I have burdened myself with a heavy load, which ultimately crushed me. But I will not give up. What sports has taught me is to get up where I fall, accept failure, face failure, and start over, Wu said in the post.  

Netizens expressed their support and encouragement for Wu, with one saying that "mistakes in sports competitions can be understood, but what's more important is the intention to bring glory to the country. Wherever you fall, get up from there. We hope Wu can adjust her mentality and strive for the Paris Olympics."

Railway's rapid development embodies the modernization of a huge population, taking people home and to dreams

Editor's Note:

In his report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, proposed to comprehensively advance the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization - the modernization of a huge population, of common prosperity for all, of material and cultural-ethical advancement, of harmony between humanity and nature, and of peaceful development.

Advancing Chinese modernization is a systematic endeavor and also an exploratory undertaking. It is through this framework that we wish to illustrate the process of the Chinese path to modernization through a series of landmark projects, touching stories, and visionary plans.

Recently, Global Times reporters visited different key locations across China and detailed their observations in five stories to showcase the diverse aspects of Chinese modernization.

In the first installment, Global Times reporters traveled to Zhangjiakou city in North China's Hebei Province, one of the cities that hosted the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, and met with the designer of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway line, gaining an insight into the country's modernization of a massive population through the kaleidoscope of the Chinese railway industry's rapid development.
Over a century ago, the Beijing-Zhangjiakou railway line, constructed under the leadership of the "Father of Chinese Railways," Zhan Tianyou, became China's first independently designed and built railway line.

However, he probably had never imagined that a century later, advanced Fuxing bullet trains at a speed of 350 kilometers per hour would be running between Zhangjiakou and China's capital city of Beijing, on this line - one of the smartest railway liens in the country, which became one of the highlights of the Beijing Winter Olympics, drawing global attention.

Behind the huge contrast is the development of the innovation of China's railway lines, stands the Chinese path to modernization, which is the modernization of a huge population.

In a country with a large population and a vast territory, many regions face transportation challenges, especially those that are impoverished. However, China has embarked on a unique path of innovation in this field, emerging as a world leader in the high-speed railway industry.

The railway network spans across China, and even across the world, providing people with a fast, convenient, and safe mode of transportation, propelling them toward Chinese modernization.

A tale of two cities

Wang Jiujun stands on a tower at the Great Wall in Zhangjiakou, facing Beijing, but his line of vision is obscured by mountains far away.

More than 110 years ago, these mountains stood as a transport network barrier, making the plan to construct a railway line connecting Beijing and Zhangjiakou an impossible mission. Some people pessimistically opined that "the person who could build such a railway line in China had not yet been born."

The success of the railway line, which was completed in 1909, shattered the misconception that "Chinese people were incapable of building their own railways."

Exactly 110 years later, Wang, the deputy director of the Transportation Safety Department of the China National Railway Group Beijing-Zhangjiakou Intercity Railway Co Ltd, would often think about Zhan's story while resolving new challenges he met in the process of building the new Beijing-Zhangjiakou railway line, with high-speed trains capable of traveling at a speed of 350 kilometers per hour.
The first challenge that Wang and his team had to overcome was how to make the high-speed railway line pass through the core area of the megacity of Beijing using underground tunnels.

A 6,022-meter long tunnel had to traverse an extremely complex underground system of the city. The tunnel intersected with three Beijing subway lines, ran parallel to another line, and crossed underneath numerous major urban roads and underground utility networks.

"If we were to compare Beijing to a human body, we would be performing a bridge surgery in a densely vascularized area," Wang explained.

To conquer such challenges, Wang and his team were brave enough to dare to push the boundaries of railway construction, overcoming some world-level difficulties by tunneling through densely populated areas in Beijing and integrating the new railway line into China's modern high-speed rail network.

With the efforts of over 500 construction workers and within a period of more than 1,000 days, the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway line was finally completed and inaugurated in its entirety in 2019.

Based on the BeiDou satellite system and the GIS (Geographic Information System), this high-speed railway line achieved intelligence in construction, operation, scheduling, maintenance, and emergency response.

Various passenger-friendly technological designs made the line a popular attraction for athletes and media professionals alike during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

Even after the Olympics, the high-speed railway line continues to provide "Olympic-standard" service to every passenger. With the help of high-speed rail, the winter sports industry in the region has also gained new opportunities.

"Previously, it took over two hours to travel between Beijing and Zhangjiakou, but now the journey has been reduced to one hour, or even 50 minutes. Many people come to Zhangjiakou, to Chongli county, to experience skiing and feel the atmosphere and enthusiasm of the Winter Olympics," Wang said.

Today, plans to further expand the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway line are underway, traversing the mountains and across the grasslands, to finally be connected to Xilinhot city, North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. "This way, we can contribute our efforts to the local development and rural revitalization of eastern Inner Mongolia," Wang said.

Deep in the mountains, Wang and his team continue this arduous work, finding ways to surmount arising challenges and difficulties.

"Resolving these difficulties is like eating nuts, right? Each time you crack one open, there is a tasty reward inside. There are always intermediate achievements," Wang concluded.

A witness of progress

With a population of over 1.4 billion people, China has experience in massive population mobility. In Wang Jiujun's memory, the journey back to home before the Spring Festival used to be a difficult one.

"During the Spring Festival travel rush, people would cram into trains through the doors and squeeze themselves through the windows. It was a real struggle to get on the train, and once on board, it was so crowded that you couldn't even touch the floor. No to mention that the green trains were so slow," he said as he reminisced on the bitter-sweet memories.

Developing high-speed railways has become one of the effective solutions to alleviate the difficulties of the Spring Festival Travel rush, what is considered to be the world's largest annual human migration.

By the end of 2022, China boasted of a railway network spanning 155,000 kilometers, with over 42,000 kilometers dedicated to high-speed rail. This vast network is also being rapidly expanded.

The railway networks are taking people home, as well as taking them to their dreams.

Over recent decades, the "green train" which runs through the Daliang Mountains in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, became an important part of the production activities and lives of the local people, heralding the transformation of the Yi people's way of life.

In December 2022, the new 915-kilometer-long Chengdu-Kunming railway line went into operation, bringing high-speed trains to the hinterland of the Daliang Mountains.

But the traditional "green trains" still serve as important capillaries, ferrying passengers to every corner of the country. In the vast forests of the Greater Hinggan Mountains in northern China, the slow-moving trains not only continue to transport residents of the forest farms to various destinations they need to reach for their livelihoods, but have also become favored tourist route, allowing urban dwellers accustomed to a fast-paced life to slow down.

Chinese high-speed rail has provided the Chinese people with an excellent travel experience and a sense of happiness. The diversification and optimization of online and offline ticket purchase channels have addressed the issue of ticket scarcity. High-quality services and facilities have resolved the issue of travel fatigue.

During the 2023 Spring Festival travel rush, the national railway network in China transported a total of 348 million passengers, with an average of 8.7 million passengers per day. There were 11 days during which the daily passenger volume exceeded 10 million, according to the China News Agency.

A calling card of openness

With the rapid development of China's railway network and the deepening of high-quality construction under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the country's opening-up efforts have expanded continuously. International cooperation has achieved significant results, with more Chinese railway lines taking root in Asia, Europe, Africa, and other regions, yielding fruitful outcomes.

"China has always been an open country. Chinese people desire to make friends, help others, and use our wisdom to assist in global development," Wang said. "That is why we have the BRI and have established railway cooperation with multiple countries regionally and globally."

The China-Laos Railway, for example, has officially opened, and created a transportation artery linking China' southwestern region with Southeast Asia.
The opening of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway line will further promote Chinese high-speed rail globally. This will allow more people to see, experience, and share the benefits of Chinese high-speed rail technology.

Moreover, the China-Europe freight trains, shuttling day and night, have rapidly transformed into a vibrant "golden gateway" and an important platform for China's participation in global openness, cooperation, and the construction of the BRI.

The building and upgrading of the railway linking Budapest in Hungary to Belgrade in Serbia, a major project under the BRI, also symbolizes the deep cooperation between China and Europe. The project, aiming to help the two countries build logistics hubs and enhance the construction of infrastructure to boost economic development, will significantly shorten travel time for passengers and cargo from the two cities when completed.

As China vigorously promotes its Chinese path to modernization, the Chinese railway network, as exemplified by high-speed rail, is also embracing open and mutually beneficial development, contributing even more to the building of a community of shared future for mankind.

"By cooperating with other countries and regions, Chinese high-speed rail development can allow more people greater access in travel and rich experiences," Wang said.

Surprising newcomers: Skill, independence, family support lift Gen-Z skateboarders to soar

China's Generation Z skateboarders have rocked the Asian Games like no one had imagined - bagging three of four gold medals of the discipline. It was not only just about the medals, but also about the energy, vitality and the uniqueness they inject into the Games.

On September 27, the youngest member of the Chinese delegation Cui Chenxi, 13, wrote her name in Chinese sports history after becoming the youngest Asian Games champion for her nation. In the same match, 18-year-old Zeng Wenhui bagged silver in women's street.

In the men's park, 15-year-old Chen Ye finished first. In men's street, China's 16-year-old Zhang Jie snatched a gold while his teammate 19-year-old Su Jianjun won a bronze. In the women's park final, Chinese athlete Li Yujuan, 20, won the silver medal, while Mao Jiasi, 15, won the bronze.

No doubt that skateboarding is a young and up-and-coming sport. Throughout the four days of the skateboarding competition, there was a friendly, young and relaxed atmosphere in the arena. In women's street final, seven of the eight contestants are under 18. Women's street final was even attended by the youngest athlete of the Asian Games at the age of nine. These athletes, however, showed the brilliant athleticism just like their role models, passed down from generation to generation.

No pressure

Speaking with the Global Times, the young medalists displayed a similar fighting spirit and the adherence to excellence just like the veteran athletes, but they also showed something noticeably different - their relaxed mindset toward pressure, their independence growing up as an athlete, and the unwavering support they received from their parents.

After becoming Team China's youngest ever Asian Games champion, Cui told the Global Times that the title did not add any extra pressure.

"I made a mistake in my first run, and on the second attempt, my coach wanted me to be steady, but I was eager to try a riskier maneuver on my own, and in the end, it worked out," Cui said.

The champion is always at ease. In the mix zone after the final, Cui instructed all the media reporters to line up and sought their opinions on where she should stand before patiently and frankly giving answers to all the questions. She said that she never actually expected the gold but she really wanted to win.

"I might be telling some of these stories in Hangzhou to my classmates when I get back," said the middle-school girl. "I think they would be happy for me."

Different from traditional sports, there is no fixed action pattern in skateboarding. It requires skaters to freely use their imagination and creativity, which is challenging and makes the sport popular among fans. Similar to earlier generations, professional skateboards often mention that they started the sport because they found it fun.

"When I started skateboarding, I felt that it was a very exciting and thrilling sport. I felt very happy after completing each move," Chen said, comparing it to the piano and other hobbies that his father, Chen Wanqin, tried to introduce to him, but which he found boring compared with playing with a skateboard.

When asked about his interest over skateboarding, Zhang Jie, who just won men's street, also shrugged grand expressions, but accredited all to "cool and fun."
Family support

The Gen-Z athletes also share similar positive family atmosphere. Usually training on their own without a professional team, they hailed the support they received from their family.

After winning the final, Cui put on the Chinese national flag on her back and skated around the venue to a loud cheer. In the audience sat her father, who first introduced Cui to skateboarding and took her training at the age of nine.

For Chen, the training area made by Chen's father became the focus of media attention after his inspirational win. In an interview with the Global Times, Chen expressed his gratitude to his father as the person he most wanted to thank after winning the gold medal.

"I'm grateful to my father for building two bowls for training for me and studying skateboarding skills with me," Chen said. Chen said that he fell in love with skateboarding when he first encountered the sport in a shopping mall at the age of 8.

Once Chen Ye showed his true passion, his father respected him the choice and supported him. In 2019, Chen Ye joined the Guangdong provincial skateboarding team. To help his son's training, Chen Wanqin and his wife rented a warehouse of more than 200 square meters to build a practice bowl for him.

After finishing second in the men's skateboarding park event at the 2021 National Games of China, Chen Wanqin built a new 900-square-meter skateboard park with a max height of nine meters in 2022 in order to improve his son's performance. Chen Ye said that during that time, his father quit his job and even spent all his savings to support his passion.

The Chinese skateboarding team, composed of athletes born after the year of 2000, continues to make breakthroughs, and the future looks promising. Showered by love, support and confidence, they are never afraid to share their ambition to go to the top.

"First I will concentrate on getting there, then I can make a big attack," Cui told the Global Times when asked about Paris 2024.

China-CEEC BRI cooperation an exemplary model

Editor's Note:
Over the past decade, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), following the guiding principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, has grown into a global platform where countries participating in it work together to promote people's well-being and give a further boost to global development.

As the BRI celebrates its 10th anniversary, Global Times reporters Yin Yeping, Wang Wenwen and Ma Mengyang interviewed diplomats and scholars to learn about achievements of the cooperation in Greece, Hungary and Serbia over the past decade and their expectations for high-quality BRI construction in the next decade.

Xiao Junzheng, Chinese Ambassador to Greece
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies. China and Greece are comprehensive strategic partners with a history of friendly exchanges dating back thousands of years. In the 51 years since establishing diplomatic relations, both countries have fearlessly navigated the changing international landscape.

China and Greece have consistently upheld the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual learning, engaging in fruitful cooperation. The two countries have become an exemplary model of peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation between nations of different scales, systems, national conditions and civilizations.

With the joint efforts of both China and Greece, the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries has yielded fruitful results.

Since China COSCO Shipping took over the management of the Piraeus Port, the port has experienced a remarkable transformation. The container throughput has grown from 880,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEUs) in 2010 to over 5 million TEUs today, making it a leading port in the Mediterranean.

This development has directly created over 3,000 job opportunities for the local community and indirectly generated more than 10,000 additional jobs.

In the future, China and Greece can further strengthen their commitment to the comprehensive development plan for Piraeus Port, enhance cooperation in customs trade and facilitation of clearance procedures, advance the construction of port logistics parks, and make new contributions to maintaining the stability of the China-Europe industrial and supply chains, promoting economic integration in the Balkans, and advancing the EU integration.

The concept of green development is increasingly being reflected in the cooperation projects between the two sides.

Chinese-produced new energy vehicles have successfully entered the Greek market this year. China and Greece have strengthened their strategic alignment in technology development under the framework of the China-Greece Joint Committee on Science and Technology Cooperation and the Belt and Road Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation Action Plan.

Simultaneously, both China and Greece should continue their efforts in strengthening mutual cultural exchange and learning. Perseverance in this endeavor will serve as a lasting example of cultural exchange and mutual understanding for the world. Together, both sides can draw upon the wisdom of ancient civilizations to seek solutions for contemporary challenges.

Throughout Greece's successive governments, there has been a strong emphasis on fostering relations with China. Following the re-election of the New Democracy Party government, they have continued to support both the co-development of the BRI and cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries.

I believe that in the future, under the guidance of the high-quality construction of the BRI, both sides will further promote the realization of China's modernization model and Greece's enhancement of its national competitiveness. Together, both sides will nurture new areas of cooperation such as green development and the digital economy, bringing greater prosperity to the people of both countries.

Norbert Csizmadia, a Hungarian expert in economic strategy
As a member of the EU, Hungary is the first country to bridge the gap between the West and the East. We place significant emphasis on fostering strong cooperation not only in terms of investments and infrastructure development but also in technology, culture, education and green financial initiatives. We are focused on the future with more connectivity.

There are six key areas of economic cooperation between China and Hungary, with a particular emphasis on collaboration within the Belt and Road Initiative. This focus has not only been prominent in recent years but will continue to be a priority. We believe that the era of Eurasia has arrived and consider it a crucial direction for the future. Furthermore, we firmly believe in peaceful and harmonious cooperation.

If we examine the global construction based on geographical divisions, it becomes evident that we are living in a multipolar world order. China is more and more important. For instance, in 2019, 49 percent of global economic growth was attributed to China and Southeast Asian countries, and China alone accounting for over 30 percent of global economic growth. Looking at a map of China, one can observe the geographical stretch from Beijing to Shanghai shares similarities with Central and Eastern European countries -- from the Baltic area to the Adriatic Sea. This underscores the ongoing focus on the same geographical regions, particularly the small countries within Central and Eastern Europe.

Hungary has a population of around 10 million, which is comparable to that of a single Chinese city. The importance of cooperation cannot be understated. The collaboration between Central and Eastern European countries and China spans over a decade, encompassing diverse fields such as education and investments. Hungary maintains robust political stability, unlike some other countries which have disengaged from Chinese cooperation in the past two years. While political changes have occurred in certain nations, Hungary has maintained a consistent direction for over 13 years, especially in terms of its objectives. I believe this political stability serves as a powerful force for the future.

Katarina Zakic, head of the Regional Center "Belt and Road" in Belgrade, the Institute of International Politics and Economics
Since the beginning, it was very clear that the BRI is something extraordinary that doesn't happen every day. We knew that it would be a huge project and a huge undertaking by China, to develop it and to fund it.

This year marks its 10th anniversary. When we look at the results, they are really impressive. Regarding the investments, we are reaching $1 trillion. What other countries have invested so much in one project throughout a 10-year period? Most projects don't even last 10 years. Around 40 million people worldwide do not have the burden of extreme poverty in which they were living before these projects.

In general, China has achieved excellent results. We are impressed by the results in transportation infrastructure and especially the types of the countries in which they were conducted. Those were the countries that needed those infrastructure projects. One of the reasons that I have always been extremely grateful for this project is China's idea that each country should nominate the project it wants to conduct. And we would very much appreciate China's assistance in those regards.

Serbia is in Europe, but it's not an EU member. This is our strategic situation, because for many years, we are still trying to become an EU member. Our cooperation with China and the successful results are partially due to this fact that we are not an EU member. If we were a member the politics within the European Union would affect our relations with China.

We have comprehensive cooperation with China. We have relations on very high political levels. We have signed with China the comprehensive strategic agreement. We also have excellent cooperation on an economic level, especially regarding the loans and the investments that we have, not only throughout the BRI, but also throughout the China-Central and Eastern Europe cooperation framework.

Not only political and economic relations are on a high level, but also people-to-people and cultural relations are on a very high level. All these elements help Serbia become the pillar of China's projects and China's relations in the Western market. Serbia didn't have any kind of suspicions or negative reactions toward deepening our cooperation. Each government, starting from 2008, just built up that operation. We are in a way complementing each other. We respect each other's policies. Even in some cases when we have some kind of problem, for example, on an economic level or regarding the investments, there was always an understanding that we should speak about the problem and resolve it. In this way, within the Balkan countries, we are distinct.

China’s sci-tech clusters take three of global top five spots on WIPO's 2023 list

Three of China's science and technology (S&T) clusters are among the world's five biggest S&T clusters as announced by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry, said on Monday during a routine press conference that the achievement showed the success of China's measures to encourage relevant regions to leverage their strength as reservoirs of innovation factors and increase their ability to innovate and boost economic growth.

On September 20, the WIPO released the Global Innovation Index 2023, which showed that three Chinese S&T clusters - Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou, Beijing as well as Shanghai-Suzhou - were among the world's top five.

In addition, the GII identified 24 S&T clusters in China, up from 21 in 2022, as the country is now home to the greatest number of S&T clusters, said the WIPO.

Wang said that the achievement showed that relevant regions have used their advantages of innovative factors, and this is having a positive effect.

"Since the first edition of the GII was released in 2007, China has been on the list at various ranks more and more frequently, reflecting the continuous improvement of China's innovation-driven development," said Wang.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that China's innovation-driven index reached 336.3 in 2022, up 15.5 percent year-on-year, and social research and development investment surpassed 3 trillion yuan ($410.37 billion) for the first time, ranking second worldwide, said Wang. 

Daren Tang, director-general of the WIPO, said that China has become a major contributor to international intellectual property work, and has successfully transformed itself into a global center of innovation, creativity and technology.

Wang reaffirmed that innovation is attached with international cooperation, openness and sharing. "China will keep implementing win-win strategy of opening-up, improving openness, promoting international communication and cooperation in science and technology, and building an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for development," he noted.

Evergrande shares jump as trade resumes after Hui Ka Yan subject to mandatory measures

Shares of the heavily indebted Evergrande Group closed up about 28 percent on Tuesday as the company resumed its trade on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, several days after its founder Hui Kai Yan has been subject to mandatory measures in accordance with the law due to suspicion of violating law and committing crimes.

Shares of Evergrande jumped as much as 42 percent during Tuesday’s trading. Another Evergrande stock, Evergrande Property Services Group, closed down about 3 percent. 

Real estate and property management services stocks fell on Tuesday’s closing, with Zhenro Properties Group dropping about 9 percent and Country Garden Services Holdings Co falling about 7 percent.

Last week, China Evergrande said it received notification from relevant authorities that Hui Ka Yan, an executive director of the company and chairman of the board of directors of the company, has been subject to mandatory measures in accordance with the law due to suspicion of criminal wrongdoing.

"There is currently no other inside information in relation to the company that needs to be disclosed," Evergrande said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Monday. 

In September, several staff working in the wealth management unit of the crisis-hit property developer were placed under a criminal probe.

“The resumption of trading of two Evergrande stocks today has attracted much attention, on the one hand, because investors are concerned about Evergrande's current operating conditions and capital market performance, on the other hand, there is no trading in the A-share market due to holidays, and the Hong Kong stock market is more able to see the market performance of real estate stocks,” Yan Yuejin, a research director at Shanghai-based E-house China R&D Institute, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Yan noted that Evergrande shares had better-than-expected performance, which was in line with the laws of the capital market. Investors will continue to pay close attention to the situation of Evergrande's real estate projects, the expansion of its property services sector and the development direction of new-energy vehicles, he added.

Chinese researchers discover chemical imprint of oldest stars in universe

Chinese researchers have successfully proven the existence of the very massive first-generation stars, which are the oldest stars in the universe. After years of work, they have discovered the chemical signature of these stars for the first time, a breakthrough that holds significant importance for understanding the origins and evolution of stars.

The research findings were published online in the international scientific journal Nature on Wednesday, providing an answer to the longstanding question in the scientific community regarding the existence of the very massive first-generation stars during the early stages of the universe, approximately 13.8 billion years ago.

The researchers from the National Astronomical Observatory of China analyzed over 5 million stellar spectra obtained from the Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST) in North China's Hebei Province. Through this analysis, they identified a star located in the halo of the Milky Way, approximately 3,327 light-years away from Earth, with a mass approximately half that of the Sun.

This star exhibited a metal-poor characteristic, indicating its alignment with the characteristics of second-generation stars formed after the demise of the first-generation stars.

The first-generation stars were supermassive stars with masses ranging from 140 to 260 times that of the Sun, making them the oldest stars in the universe. These stars existed over 13 billion years ago but had short lifespans of only 3 million years before undergoing supernova explosions, giving rise to the second-generation stars observed by the researchers.

By observing and studying the second-generation star, the researchers will be able to infer the mass and characteristics of its preceding generation of stars, said Xing Qianfan, a deputy researcher from National Astronomical Observatory of China.

Xing said that the research team will utilize the massive dataset from LAMOST to deduce the distribution of stars with different masses in the earliest first-generation stars. This will enable them to explore the evolutionary history of the entire universe and the evolution of stars.

China mulls draft law to curb AI ghosting degrees

China is considering holding degree holders who use artificial intelligence (AI) to ghostwrite their theses legally responsible. The draft of the Degree Law was submitted to the Standing Committee of the 14th National People's Congress, China's top legislature, for deliberation on Monday.

The draft lays out legal responsibilities for actions such as degree holders using or impersonating another's identity to gain admission qualifications, employing artificial intelligence to author thesis papers, and institutions granting degrees unlawfully, as reported by the media on Monday. 

Academic misconduct includes plagiarism, forgery, data falsification, using artificial intelligence to produce a thesis, impersonating another's identity to obtain admission qualifications, and securing admission qualifications and graduation certificates through illicit means like favoritism and cheating. The draft also addresses other illegal or irregular behaviors that, when exhibited during the study period, should prevent the awarding of a degree.

The draft states that if an individual who has already obtained a degree is found to have used illegal means to do so, the degree-granting institution must revoke the degree certificate. This decision should be made following a review by the degree evaluation committee.