Xi’s letter to Flying Tigers underscores wartime friendship between China and US forged in blood, honor

Editor's Note:

Chinese people believe that letters are as valuable as gold. For thousands of years, letters, across mountains and oceans, have been delivering writers' sentiments and conveyed friendship and expectations.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Chinese president, has managed to find time to reply to some letters from different parts of society and the world despite his busy work schedule.

Through his letters, Xi has corresponded with international friends from all walks of life on numerous occasions, part of a series of excellent stories of China's international exchanges in the new era. The letters have also added vivid color to the diplomacy between China and other countries.

The Global Times traced and contacted some of the recipients of Xi's letters, to hear the inspiring stories behind the letters and their communication with the president.

In this installment, the Global Times spoke with Chairman of the Sino-American Aviation Heritage Foundation and a Flying tiger veteran who is 102 years old. Through the interviews, they not only shared their excitement of receiving the letter from Xi, but also illustrated some stories between the Flying Tiger and China, as well as why it is necessary to pass the spirit behind these stories.

A recent letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping has once again emphasized the historical significance of the Flying Tigers and the enduring wartime friendship between the US and China. This historical perspective provides valuable insights into the lasting impact of this era on contemporary China-US relations.

Furthermore, the indomitable spirit of the Flying Tigers is poised to continue inspiring future generations. It serves as a testament to the unwavering determination of those who are committed to preserving and sharing these remarkable stories. They are resolute in their mission to ensure that the legacy of the Flying Tigers lives on, never to be forgotten.

Xi recently replied to a letter from Chairman of the Sino-American Aviation Heritage Foundation Jeffrey Greene and Flying Tigers veterans Harry Moyer and Mel McMullen.

In his reply on September 12, Xi said he hopes that the spirit of Flying Tigers will be carried on from generation to generation between the Chinese and American peoples.

"I was heartened by the great enthusiasm of the Sino-American Aviation Heritage Foundation and the veterans of Flying Tigers in letting more Chinese and Americans learn about the stories of the Flying Tigers over the years. Inspired by this, a growing number of young Americans have joined the Flying Tigers Friendship Schools and Youth Leadership Program, and nearly 500 Flying Tigers veterans and several hundred of their family members have visited China. I wish to pay tribute to you for all this," Xi wrote.

Salute from China

In a thorough zoom interview with Global Times recently, Greene said that it was a "flabbergasted moment" when he heard back from Xi within only two weeks. "We are extraordinarily humbled that President Xi thought enough of the Flying Tigers. It shows his words, his belief that China never forgets its old friends."

"Having my name on a letter of the Chinese president is pretty impressive. It was very humbling to other two writers knowing that president of China is reaching out to them and also to their family members. They are so touched," Greene said.

In his letter, Xi said that "in the past, our two peoples fought the Japanese fascists together, and forged a deep friendship that withstood the test of blood and fire. In the future, the two major countries shoulder even more important responsibility for world peace, stability and development."

"We therefore should, and we must, respect each other, coexist in peace and pursue win-win cooperation," he said.

Noting that "in growing China-US relations, the hope lies in the people, the foundation lies among the people, and the future lies with the youth," Xi said that "a sound and steady development of the relationship in the new era requires the input and support of a new generation of Flying Tigers."

Recently, Greene, Moyer and McMullen jointly wrote a letter to Xi, in which they detailed the efforts of the foundation and Flying Tigers veterans in helping promote China-US friendly exchanges, and expressed their willingness to inherit and carry forward the precious spirit of China-US cooperation.

Following Greene's initial decision to write the letter, Harry Moyer joined in and was shocked as well when received Xi's reply in a quick manner. "To me, it was almost 'Earth Shattering' that he answered so quickly and so positively - his words clearly demonstrate that China indeed remembers its old friends," Moyer told the Global Times.

Never to be forgotten

The friendship between the Flying Tigers veterans and the Chinese people has been inherited by the Chinese government and public over the years.

The Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco held a celebration marking the 102nd birthday of Flying Tigers veteran Harry Moyer on October 30, 2022. Video shows that Consul General of China in San Francisco Zhang Jianmin was playing the harmonica with Moyer's friends and singing "Happy Birthday."

In China, the story of the Flying Tigers is widely known and has become a fundamental part of many Chinese people's understanding of the US.

In 1941, a group of volunteer US pilots, later known as the Flying Tigers, came to China, standing shoulder to shoulder with the Chinese people to fight invading Japanese troops. They flew over the Himalayas, helping to ship strategic supplies to break through the Japanese blockade.

During their time in China, the Flying Tigers collectively achieved remarkable feats during their service, downing over 2,600 Japanese military aircraft, sinking or damaging 44 enemy ships, and contributing to the demise of more than 60,000 Japanese soldiers.

Moyer joined the US Army Air Force following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He is one of the few remaining WWII pilots and the only one believed to still be licensed to fly solo.

Moyer's squadron joined the 23rd Fighter Group of the 14th Air Force in China in 1944 and was primarily responsible for protecting Chinese airfields and the B-29 bombers tasked with counter-attacks on Japan.

"We, who were the pilots, the air crewmen who manned the bombers and transports, the ground crewmen who worked night and day to keep our aircraft flying and combat ready, were all young men, and the time we spent in helping the Chinese people defend their homeland and battling a tough and dangerous enemy was in many ways the biggest single experience of our lives," Moyer recalled.

"I was impressed with the remarkable determination of the Chinese people in their determination to resist the brutal military aggression of Imperial Japan. They suffered so much and they sacrificed so much in their resistance. Our memories of China and friendships made among her people has been in so many ways remained the defining experience of our lives," he said.

Founded in 1998, the Sino-American Aviation Heritage Foundation is an American civil friendship group aimed at promoting the study and commemoration of China-US historical aviation events. It is a nongovernmental US organization aimed at rekindling the spirit of cooperation between the two peoples and enhancing their friendship and understanding.

According to Greene, the foundation has received more than 1,000 photos provided by Flying Tigers veterans, which have been exhibited in three naval museums around the US. It has also brought 500 veterans and their family members to 25 cities around China, receiving a warm welcome from local Chinese communities.

Meanwhile, Greene's organization has enlisted the participation of three schools in the US and three in China for the Flying Tigers Friendship School and Youth Leadership Program. This initiative facilitates student exchanges between both countries through online classes and summer camps that have covered about 15,000 students in the two countries in total, according to Greene.

Greene said that many Americans know a few about what happened in China during the World War II. "They watch Top Gun and Band of Brothers, knowing about the European theatre, the Normandy, the Pearl Harbor… but there is not much work about the stories in China, such as the Nanjing Massacre," Greene said.

"So that is the mission of my foundation, both in the US and in China is to get people to scratch their heads and say, 'tell me more,'" he said.

Passing on the spirit

The history is fading into the distance with aging veterans gradually diminishing in number, but the story of the Flying Tigers remains vividly alive. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of individuals and organizations, such as Greene and his organization, the spirit of the Flying Tigers is poised to be carried forward by the next generation of young people in both China and the US.

Soon, with Greene's foundation, Flying Tigers veterans Moyer, who will turn 103 and McMullen, who will turn 99, will embark on a journey to China during which they will help to pass on the spirit of these heroic flyers to the next generation.

"If the youth remember it, they can use that memory," Greene said. "With the shared American and Chinese legacy of the Flying Tigers, the next generation of young people can do so much. We can do so much for relations between our countries. So much."

"It is so important to China and the US to have common, strong, calm and interest, which is also important to the whole world, because the relationship between China and the US is the most important relationship on the planet. And when it works, it will work for people of the two countries, and for the rest of the world," Greene said.

Before this reply letter to the Flying Tigers, Xi also replied to a letter from the US-China Youth and Student Exchange Association and friends from all walks of life in the northwestern US state of Washington, as well as a letter from John Easterbrook, grandson of the late US General Joseph Stilwell.

In his replies, Xi expressed the hope that the peoples of both countries would strengthen communication, enhance understanding and expand cooperation, injecting new vitality into the development of bilateral relations.

Moyer said that because of the scope of our World War II cooperation and ultimate success as close allies, both countries can draw strength and inspiration by remembering what our cooperation and solidarity achieved during the darkest years of the war.

"We must keep the bond between the US and China alive, as it was forged in blood and honor," he said.

How has the US tied the 'dead knot' in Palestinian-Israeli conflict?

Editor's Note:

The recent escalation of conflict between Palestine and Israel is unusually intense in terms of casualties. Despite being the most important third party in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have called for "humanitarian pauses" to deliver lifesaving aid to millions in Gaza. Allowing the conflict to escalate in this manner will lead to more innocent civilian deaths and injuries. During a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on October 12, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, "You may be strong enough on your own to defend yourself, but as long as America exists, you will never, ever have to. We will always be there by your side." US President Joe Biden also promised unprecedented military assistance to Israel. In recent years, the US has faced international criticism for sidelining Palestinians' right to statehood and showing biased support for Israel. When will the US become a true peace mediator?

Pure lip service

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is currently the most complex and urgent international political issue facing the international community. The essence of the conflict lies in how Jews and Palestinians can achieve a just and lasting peace based on the "two-state solution." After World War II, Zionist organizations gradually sought support from the US to replace British presence in the region. On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 181 on the partition of Palestine, deciding to establish an Arab state and a Jewish state in the region. On May 14, 1948, Israel was officially established based on this resolution, and the US, under President Harry Truman, quickly became the first country to recognize Israeli sovereignty. Since the early 1950s, the US, along with the UK and France, has issued declarations assuming security obligations toward Israel, and the military and economic assistance provided by the US to Israel has been continuous.

During the third Arab-Israeli war in 1967, Israel not only occupied all the Arab territories as stipulated in Resolution 181, but also captured the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, the Golan Heights of Syria, and other Arab territories. Faced with the new battlefield situation and Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed Resolution 242 on November 22, 1967, urging Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories in exchange for peace and recognition of borders. The principle of "land for peace" embodied in Resolution 242 has become an internationally recognized approach to addressing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. During the same period, as the rivalry between the US and the Soviet Union intensified, Israel, which held an increasingly strategic position in the Middle East, became a trump card for the US to contain Soviet expansion in the region.

After the fourth Arab-Israeli war in 1973, Egypt, burdened by its long-term involvement in the war, hoped to achieve peace with Israel. Israel also realized that simply occupying Egyptian territory and implementing defensive measures would not effectively solve its own security issues, so it began to explore the possibility of peace with Egypt. Subsequently, the US intervened in the peace process between Egypt and Israel, with then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger shuttling between Arab countries and Israel, conveying messages and successfully easing hostilities between the warring parties.

In March 1977, then US president Jimmy Carter said, "There has to be a homeland provided for the Palestinian refugees who have suffered for many, many years." However, such remarks were quickly met with strong opposition from Jewish groups in the US. In 1978, Carter hosted the Camp David peace negotiations between Egypt and Israel, which led to the normalization of relations between Israel and the first Arab country. The Camp David Accords included a call for relevant parties to engage in discussions on Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

For a long time, the international community has advocated for the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. However, the US has repeatedly disregarded the rights of the Palestinians. In November 1988, during the 19th extraordinary session of the Palestinian National Council, the establishment of the State of Palestine was declared, but its borders were not determined. On November 26 that same year, then US Secretary of State George Shultz issued a statement stating that the Reagan administration refused to grant a visa to Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), who was expected to attend a United Nations conference. This move by the US drew condemnation from many countries.

After the end of the Cold War, the US organized several peace negotiations on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but has since been unable to effectively resolve the differences between Palestine and Israel. The Roadmap for Peace in the Middle East launched in 2003 openly supports the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. The plan was proposed by former US president George W. Bush and was determined through joint consultations by the US, Russia, the United Nations, and the EU, with the aim of resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in three stages. The biggest difference between the Roadmap plan and previous plans was that it explicitly proposes the concept of two states "living side by side."

However, an article published in the Foreign Policy on October 19 argues that the "United States has long maintained that it supports a two-state solution to the conflict. But the reality is that little more than lip service has been paid to this goal, and with each passing crisis, Washington grows more and more aligned with Israel."

At the United Nations level, the US has continuously obstructed the efforts of Palestine to seek statehood. On November 29, 2012, on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution upgrading Palestine's status at the UN to "non-member observer state" status. However, at the Security Council level, the United States has consistently vetoed Palestine's bid for full UN membership.

Ignoring Palestinians' right to life and of return

Since the end of the Cold War, especially after the Oslo Accords in 1993, the US has continued to dominate Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations and still considers Israel as its main ally in the Middle East. The cooperation between the two countries includes enhancing Israel's military early warning capabilities, joint counter-terrorism efforts, intelligence sharing, and the prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. However, due to the US neglecting the concerns of the Palestinians and failing to address their demands on issues such as the status of Jerusalem, the delineation of the West Bank border, and the right of return for refugees, the negotiations have repeatedly failed.

The stagnation of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process has had a negative impact on the internal Palestinian sentiment, leading to new factional disputes. In the new century, the US has championed Western political values such as "democracy" and "free elections" and exerted pressure on the Palestinian Authority to hold open elections. After the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council elections, Hamas was widely supported and formed the government. However, the US and Israel, claiming that "terrorist organizations cannot join the government," jointly intervened in Palestinian internal affairs, leading to political instability in Palestine.

Furthermore, the US has tacitly allowed or even condoned Israel's unilateral blockade of the Gaza Strip, resulting in the continuous deterioration of the local economy and living conditions, ultimately leading to the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Washington traditionally shields its ally Israel from any Security Council action." After the US recently vetoed a humanitarian aid resolution at the UN Security Council, Reuters made this comment. For nearly half a century, the US has used its position as a permanent member of the Security Council to block numerous resolutions condemning Israel.

On December 6, 2017, then US president Donald Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and stated that the American Embassy would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. His "new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians" has further intensified tensions in the region. The fundamental cause of the latest round of Palestinian-Israeli conflict lies in the US abandoning its mediation efforts, thwarting hopes for peace between the two sides. Throughout previous Middle East peace negotiations, the US' bias and indulgence toward Israel have undermined the Palestinians' confidence in Palestinian-Israeli peace. After the failure of then Secretary of State John Kerry's mediation attempt in 2014, the US gave up on restructuring Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Since then, neither the Trump nor Biden administration has initiated new peace dialogues.

Eroding basis for dialogue

In 2020, the "Deal of the Century" and the Arab-Israeli Abraham Accords promoted by Trump fundamentally eroded the basis for dialogue between Palestine and Israel. In the "Deal of the Century," mainly drafted by Trump's adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, the US shifted its view of the Palestine-Israel issue to an economic development problem and proposed the construction of various "industrial zones" to relocate Palestinians to the Negev Desert in exchange for economic development opportunities, compromising their demands for an independent state, territorial boundaries, clarification on the status of Jerusalem, and the right of return for refugees. The US no longer regarded the Palestinian issue as the core of the Middle Eastern problem, no longer adhered to the principle of "land for peace," and no longer considered East Jerusalem to be the future capital of the Palestinian state, which was met with Palestinian displeasure.

On issues such as Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the US also condones and tolerates Israel's occupation of Palestinian land, undermining the foundation of peace talks between Israel and Palestine. The so-called Abraham Accords limits the scope of the Palestinian capital to small towns in the suburbs of East Jerusalem and does not grant the right of return to Palestinian refugees to their previous land.

For a long time, the majority of Arab countries have adhered to the principle of "solving the Palestinian-Israeli issue first before discussing Arab-Israeli relations" in their development of relations with Israel, in order to promote lasting peace in the entire Middle Eastern region. However, the US hopes to reconstruct its Middle East alliance strategy by adjusting Israel's relations with Arab countries, especially with Gulf Arab countries, in order to strategically contain hostile countries in the region such as Iran and Syria. Therefore, against the backdrop of the unresolved Palestinian-Israeli issue, the US is eager to promote the normalization process of Arab-Israeli relations, gradually "economizing" and marginalizing the Palestinian issue.

In September 2020, the US brokered the signing of the Abraham Accords among Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel. Although this move has led to the normalization of relations between some Arab countries and Israel, it has also sparked strong anger among the Palestinian people due to further marginalization of the Palestinian issue. In recent years, as rumors of the normalization of relations between countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel driven by the US increased, feelings of being "abandoned" and "forgotten" among the Palestinian people only grew stronger, and it was only a matter of time before intense resistance against Israel erupted.

Amid the escalating crisis in the current conflict, the US has not only failed to reflect on its own Middle East policy but also continues to smear the resistance of the Palestinian people, turning a blind eye to Israel's illegal expansion into occupied territories. Following the outbreak of the current round of conflicts between Israel and Palestine, the US President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense have visited Israel, dispatched aircraft carrier strike groups to the Middle East, provided various military supplies to Israel, and vetoed relevant resolutions by the UNSC, allowing the conflict to escalate. In resolving the Palestinian-Israeli issue, the US should shoulder its due responsibility instead of treating the conflict like a tool in domestic political power struggles, let alone using it as an opportunity to attack other countries in the region. The US should cooperate with the international community to expedite a peaceful resolution to the conflict, rather than exploiting it for personal gain.

US attempt to divide ASEAN reflects a waning clout

US President Joe Biden's recent foreign policy agenda has sparked widespread discussion. Against the backdrop of his absence from the ASEAN Summit and related meetings, Biden is scheduled  to visit Vietnam, one of the ASEAN member countries, on Sunday, with plans to elevate the bilateral relationship to a "strategic partnership," according to information released by the US. This move, putting Vietnam beyond ASEAN, reflects the essence of the US' Indo-Pacific Strategy.

Despite the US government's repeated emphasis on supporting ASEAN's centrality in the regional architecture in its strategic documents, the reality shows that it's merely a token gesture to ASEAN. Since taking office, the Biden administration has spared no effort in reviving the Quad, establishing the AUKUS clique, and mediating between Japan and South Korea, relying on so-called like-minded allies. In practice, the US' Indo-Pacific Strategy marginalizes ASEAN, essentially bypassing it and building a "minilateral cooperation" mechanism centered on the US to directly serve US hegemony.

While snubbing ASEAN, the US is also dividing ASEAN. For instance, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity launched by the Biden administration invited only seven ASEAN member countries, excluding the other three. Such differential treatment inevitably creates rifts within ASEAN. Biden's decision to prioritize Vietnam over ASEAN once again demonstrates the US' intention to divide ASEAN.

The upgrading of the US-Vietnam relationship is closely linked to the escalating tensions in the South China Sea. By enhancing its military presence in the Philippines, the US is increasingly intervening behind the scenes in the South China Sea issue, and disputes between China and the Philippines are showing signs of intensification. Indonesia, the rotating chair of ASEAN this year, has repeatedly expressed a desire to accelerate negotiations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, which is something the US does not want to see. A calm South China Sea means the US has one less interface to meddle in regional affairs. Therefore, as one of the claimants in the South China Sea, Vietnam has become a target for US courtship. Washington aims to build a united front against China regarding the South China Sea issue by enhancing cooperation with the Philippines and Vietnam.

Ironically, the US practice of marginalizing and dividing ASEAN reveals a decline in its own influence. The strategic competition initiated by the US against China has squeezed the policy space of ASEAN countries and increased strategic pressure on regional nations. ASEAN leaders repeatedly emphasize that they refuse to "take sides" between China and the US. The US is well aware that ASEAN, as a whole, will not follow its lead on the issue of containing China. This has caused strategic anxiety in Washington.

The US itself is to blame for the current situation. On the one hand, influenced by domestic trade protectionism, the US is reluctant to open its market to ASEAN countries and opposes multilateral trade systems like RCEP or CPTPP.

On the other hand, the US tends to judge and differentiate its partners based on US own values, while most ASEAN countries do not necessarily align with the standards of US-style democracy. The US is neither able nor willing to make changes in these two aspects. 

From this perspective, the US' courtship of Vietnam is merely a temporary measure. Earlier this year, Washington meddled in Hanoi's domestic affairs through its "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices" and faced criticism from Vietnamese officials.

A common consensus among ASEAN countries is that the US' Asia-Pacific policy lacks consistency. From the "Pivot to Asia" during the Barack Obama administration to Donald Trump's "America First" foreign policy, and now to the Biden administration's Indo-Pacific Strategy, ASEAN countries have become increasingly skeptical of US commitments.

In sharp contrast, China has consistently adhered to four "unswerving" principles in its relations with ASEAN: China will unswervingly take ASEAN as a high priority in its neighborhood diplomacy, unswervingly support ASEAN unity and ASEAN Community building. Furthermore, China will unswervingly support ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional architecture, and unswervingly support ASEAN in playing a bigger role in regional and international affairs.

It is evident that China's emphasis on ASEAN is fundamentally different from the US'. The attention paid by the US to ASEAN is in fact driven by the competition with China. China and ASEAN are geographically connected and have deep economic, social and cultural ties that cannot be severed. They should be strategic pillars for each other and work together to prevent a new cold war from occurring in Asia.

Mutual respect key to further improving China-Australia ties

On the morning of September 7, while I was attending the 7th Meeting of the China-Australia High-level Dialogue in the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in western Beijing, a young colleague of mine texted me a short message saying "Australian PM Anthony Albanese confirms visit to China 'later this year.'" 

Later that same day, in response to a question, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a routine press conference, "China welcomes Prime Minister Albanese to visit China at the invitation of Premier Li Qiang and stands ready to work with Australia to make sound preparations for the visit."

To people who have been keeping a watchful and hopeful eye on the development of the bilateral ties, this is really good news.

Back in December 2017, when I participated in, as a member of the Chinese delegation, the 4th Meeting of the China-Australia High-level Dialogue held in Melbourne, I also attended an event to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the establishment of China-Australia diplomatic relations. I still keep in my souvenir collection a pin that the Australian side made to mark the special occasion.

Then and there, it never occurred to me that bilateral ties would be put on a twisty and bumpy road in the next few years. Some overseas media outlets even said that bilateral ties had reached their lowest point since the establishment of the diplomatic relations in 1972. I don't think this is totally an exaggeration.

Until before May 2022, China-Australia relations were severely damaged due to the unwise and shortsighted China policies adopted by the previous Australian government. Bilateral trade suffered even more significantly. 

Fortunately, with the joint efforts the two sides made in the past year, bilateral ties began to be warming up by the end of 2022. The resumption of the 7th edition of the high-level dialogue after a three-year hiatus - being held in each country in turn since its initial launch in 2014 till 2019 - indicated that bilateral ties have bottomed out. The latest dialogue was held to put into concrete actions items mentioned in the China-Australia Foreign and Strategic Dialogue Joint Outcomes Statement that the two sides issued after Wang Yi, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Chinese foreign minister, held the sixth round of China-Australia Foreign and Strategic Dialogue with visiting Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong on December 21, 2022 in Beijing. 

The highly anticipated announcement of Albanese's scheduled China visit is timely and far more significant. It is an explicit signal that China-Australia relations are on their way to get back on the right track.

As one of the participants, I was not supposed to write about, in whichever capacity, who said what during the one-day, close-door high-level dialogue, which was conducted by "36 representatives from various sectors of the two countries for in-depth and constructive discussions on a wide range of issues concerning China-Australia relations in a candid, friendly and warm atmosphere," as Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at the routine press briefing. 

But as a longtime observer of China-Australia relations, I would very much like to contribute for the betterment of bilateral ties by putting down my suggestions for the people-to-people exchanges.

First of all, a sound bilateral relationship is the foundation and prerequisite to boost people-to-people exchanges. To further advance bilateral exchanges in education, culture, tourism, media and art, and to consolidate the popular support for the bilateral relations in the respective country, we have to further improve the current status of bilateral ties. The two sides need to have more communications to reduce biases, to look at each other's development in a more positive perspective, to understand each other's political intentions more actively and to keep discarding the Cold War mentality. They need to establish more mutual trusts, continuously increase reciprocal inclusiveness, decrease or even get rid of misunderstandings and build up more links between the two countries.

Above all, mutual respect is the key to the improvement of the China-Australia relations. 

Mutual respect, as I understand, is not just about respecting each other's economic power and the benefits that one side has brought to the other side. More importantly and significantly, it is about respecting each other's sovereignty, core interests and grave concerns, respecting different political systems, different histories and cultures, and managing properly the divergences.

China has always been showing its willingness to deepen bilateral ties with Australia in each and every sector. China's good will and the great efforts it has made in this regard should be cherished and respected, but should by no means be taken for granted.

Just as Mao Ning told the September 7 press briefing, "China always believes that a sound and stable China-Australia relationship is in the fundamental interests of the peoples of both countries, and conducive to peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific and the wider world."

Both sides should make greater efforts to maintain the encouraging development momentum of the bilateral ties and work harder to push forward the much expected people-to-people exchanges.

US-S.Korea-Canada drills push for conflict in NE Asia

Warships from the US, South Korea and Canada drilled on September 14 in the Yellow Sea, one day before the three countries steamed for Incheon to help reenact an amphibious landing during the 1950-53 Korean War, Stars and Stripes reported on September 15. This is the first large-scale exercises that the US navy participated in the Yellow Sea off the coast of northern China in 10 years.

The US is changing its 10-year low-key manner in the Yellow Sea, demonstrating that it is integrating all the forces it can use in the Northeast Asia region, the East China Sea, the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea into a unified chain to contain China under its framework of Indo-Pacific Strategy.

The US and its allies have been quite proactive around China's surrounding waters lately. Through multiple joint military exercises, the US is further escalating tensions in China's surrounding areas. They often claimed the events were carried out under the name of responding to continuing tension with North Korea, but the trilateral leaders' summit at Camp David among the US, South Korea and Japan in late August has already made it clear that Northeast Asia is an important part of US Indo-Pacific Strategy to contain China. The US, Japan and South Korea are moving closer to forming a trilateral alliance and further accelerating NATO-ization of the region. The gates of hell have been opened.

Since President Joe Biden took office, the US has been deepening its Indo-Pacific Strategy in Northeast Asia, strengthening the trilateral relationship among the US, Japan and South Korea, and the regional dynamics in Northeast Asia have been undergoing rapid changes. The most important trend against the backdrop is the emergence of camp politics in Northeast Asia. Confrontation and antagonism between North and South Korea has deepened. Ties between North and South Korea become increasingly tense. And it is growingly difficult to restart dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang. Mutual hostility is intensifying.

Veteran US diplomat Henry Kissinger famously stated, "To be an enemy of America can be dangerous, but to be a friend is fatal." Traditional US political and diplomatic elites repeatedly advocate that the most important foundation of US global hegemony is the alliance system, yet in reality, there have often been scenarios in US diplomatic history where the interests of allies are disregarded in favor of Washington's own interests. This shows that the alliance system only serves to maximize US' own interests. 

Since South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol took office, deepening the US-South Korea alliance has become the cornerstone of his foreign policy, indicating that South Korea is fully swinging to the US. Under the joint influence of the Biden and Yoon administrations, the US-South Korea alliance has been deeply integrated into the US Indo-Pacific Strategy. The US has gradually made South Korea accept the perception that "China is a threat" through a series of means, incorporating US global interests into South Korea's national interests. South Korea has thus shifted from striking partial "balance" to becoming a complete follower.

Faced with low approval ratings, the Yoon administration has hyped up a pro-US, anti-China, anti-North Korea atmosphere at home. It has done in the hope of rallying the public through inciting national sentiment or creating external friction to boost public support and lift ratings. This is dangerous and will jeopardize the stability in the Northeast region. 

As can be seen, with the US intensifying the implementation of the Indo-Pacific Strategy and the strengthening of the trilateral relationship among the US, Japan and South Korea, the camp politics in Northeast Asia is becoming increasingly obvious. It should be said that the current stage is an extremely severe period for the security situation in Northeast Asia since the end of the Cold War. However, despite the continuous fermentation and accumulation of negative factors, the overall situation in Northeast Asia is still controllable, and the possibility of a serious conflict breaking out in the short term is not high. The most important thing is that China has always been an important force in maintaining peace and stability in the region.

Cooperation between China and the Middle East is dynamic and predictable: experts

China and Middle East countries can build a bridge of communication and actively face global challenges together, said experts attending a forum in Shanghai over the weekend.

From Saturday to Sunday, the 8th International Forum on Asia and Middle East Conference, themed "The Middle East Security and Development in the Global Context," was jointly held by the Middle East Studies Institute of the Shanghai International Studies University (SISU), the Chinese Association of Middle East Studies, and the Doha-based Hamad Bin Khalifa University. The forum consisted of five workshops in which more than 120 scholars from about 20 countries and regions shared their views. 

Professor Jiang Feng, the chair of the SISU, in his opening remarks, said that the conference is an important contribution to promote dialogue between different civilizations.

In September 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the Global Development Initiative (GDI) at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. And in April 2022, he put forward the Global Security Initiative (GSI) at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference. In March, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations after years of tensions, with China playing a key role as the mediator.

Zhai Jun, special envoy of the Chinese government on the Middle East issue, said at the forum that the world is still facing a deficit of peace and development, and China's GDI and GSI have contributed to promoting peace in the Middle East. Former special envoy of the Chinese government on the Middle East issue, Wu Sike, analyzed that China's advocacy for a new vision of security is beneficial for peace and development in the Middle East.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposal. Youness Abouyoub, chief of the Governance and State-Building Section at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, highlighted the Middle East's keen interest in the BRI and described the cooperation between China and the region as dynamic and predictable.

Professor Mohamad Homayoon from Imam Sadie University in Iran emphasized the uniqueness of Iranian civilization and expressed hope for not succumbing to hegemony. He also stressed the importance of developing multilateral diplomacy and thinking critically about the development of the country. He believes that with China's help, the future of West Asia is promising.

Japan’s dumping of nuclear-contaminated water has no scientific basis

According to Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the first round of dumping the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea has recently been completed. TEPCO said it had released 7,800 tons of "treated" water with 1.244 trillion becquerels of tritium as planned. 

Like before, all data available this time come from TEPCO's sole source with no reference to other radioactive particles apart from tritium, nor any endorsement from any independent third parties. This ongoing self-willed practice continues to raise more questions and concerns from people living in Pacific Rim countries, about the scientific rationality of the discharge as well as the credibility of TEPCO's operation.

The Japanese authority preferred to use the term "treated water" to create the impression that the heavily contaminated water with a huge amount of radioactive particles has been dealt with properly. The only figure of tritium concentration seems low and safe judging by certain "criteria." Yet, as already has been revealed by many reports, the contaminated water contains, even after being treated, various radioactive particles such as carbon-14, iodine-129, caesium-137, among others. Exposure to these particles will have a grave impact on the cells and organs in human bodies. Without data on all the nuclides released into the sea, the result of the detection from the Japanese side has too many defects and cannot be considered scientific.  

What is more worrisome is how the data are collected and processed. Ever since the day the Japanese government made the decision to discharge the contaminated water, all the data that should help the public to make the judgment come from one single provider, TEPCO. This is the very company that is liable for the whole mess and one that doesn't enjoy a high reputation at home and abroad due to its dishonorable history of concealing accidents, delaying response and violating its commitments. 

Even on the website of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which was said to participate in the monitoring of the discharge, the data published so far are all from TEPCO. There is no trace of any independent engagement from the international community at all. Due to the nature of the dumping, which definitely affects the whole globe, a multi-parties participation in the monitoring and supervision of this operation is imperative. Without this, the whole process could hardly be deemed as scientific.

Furthermore, the discharge of the nuclear-contaminated water is so far said to continue for at least 30 years. During such a long process, the potential risk of accidents will increase as the discharge facilities age with time. Neither TEPCO nor the Japanese government has provided any preparedness plan which should be a common practice in a long-term plan. Leaving it be and non-action is neither scientific nor responsible. In the case of this dumping operation, time won't heal but only aggravate the damage. Therefore, an independent and transparent mechanism must be established to monitor the marine ecosystem over a long period of time right from this moment.

Due to all these reasons, it is understandable and reasonable that people from neighboring countries have great concerns about the behavior that will affect the food they are eating, the environment they are living in and the way they are making a living. No one has offered them the full picture. No one has shown them the real undertone. Maybe no one dares to. So they have the right to question, to protest, and to take measures such as limiting the import of Fukushima seafood to counteract the severe impact. Even the US government, although praising Japan for its discharge by lip service, has banned the import of seafood from coastal regions in Japan that are most likely contaminated by the discharge since early this year.Using this kind of "praise" as a pretence of "support from the world" is cheating.

Disregarding the anger from those directly affected and blaming it as irrational to distort the narrative, as what the Japanese prime minister has done recently, is morally wrong. The best way to calm the wrath and concerns over the discharge is to immediately stop dumping contaminated water. As China and other stakeholders have pointed out, if the nuclear-contaminated water is truly safe, Japan wouldn't have to discharge it into the sea -  and certainly shouldn't if it's not.

Ningxia an epitome of China's green transition

Recently, I had the opportunity to explore the Liupanshan Mountain in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Shortly after departing from Yinchuan, the capital of the region, we encountered extensive stretches of solar photovoltaic panels and clusters of windmills lining both sides of the highway. 

It is worth noting that this form of power generation has emerged as a crucial economic asset for the western region.

In the past, Ningxia was known for its specialty products, such as sheepskin, wolfberries and Fat choy, but now it has become an important source of electricity for the whole country. One recently launched project is the "Ningxia Electricity to Hunan," which transmits mainly clean electricity from Ningxia to central China's Hunan Province.

The Ningxia wind and solar power transmission line spans 1634 km, from Ningxia, traversing Gansu, Shaanxi, Chongqing, Hubei, and terminating in Hunan. The project boasts a designed transmission capacity of 8 million kilowatts and a total investment of 28.1 billion yuan. 

The Western media has recently focused on rising coal-fired power projects in China. They thought this may hinder China's commitment to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

These sorts of projects in Ningxia are a clear response.

Regarding China's geography, the northwest is best suited for wind and solar projects, like the Helan Mountain region and the Tengger Desert in Ningxia. However, these areas are sparsely populated, with little industry and are far from the coastal and southeastern regions, where electricity is most needed. 

How can we ensure wind and solar power transmission remains uninterrupted?

According to a friend who works in the electricity industry, the amount of coal power generated in Ningxia has stayed the same over the past two years. However, newly constructed or renovated coal power projects are being implemented as complementary measures to ensure uninterrupted power transmission along ultra-high-voltage lines to other areas far away from Ningxia.

The project in Zhongwei city, Ningxia, which is involved in the transmission of electricity to Hunan, is to build a power photovoltaic base while at the same time bundling clean, efficient, advanced, energy-saving coal power in the neighborhood to achieve uninterrupted transmission.

A closer examination of China's grassroots efforts in transitioning to energy efficiency helps us understand why China will fulfill its promises.

Once one of the most impoverished regions in China, the Liupanshan mountainous area in Guyuan city, Ningxia, has undergone a remarkable transformation. It has emerged as a renowned scenic destination, boasting a network of bicycle paths stretching over 50 kilometers. These paths provide a convenient means for visitors to explore the picturesque landscape, meandering amidst the lush hills and serene waters.

I walked into a village snack shop and saw that the cookers had been converted into electric stoves. I asked the shopkeeper what she relied on to keep warm in winter. She mentioned that her family was preparing to use electric heaters this winter. 

The heating season in Guyuan lasts five months in winter, and while farmers used to burn wood and coal to heat their homes, they are now expanding their use of electricity, natural gas and solar energy. According to Guyuan's plan, by the end of 2024, the clean heating rate in urban areas will reach 100 percent and 60 percent in rural areas.

The shopkeeper also told me that heating with electricity or natural gas is cheaper than burning coal. According to local farmers, burning coal stoves requires at least 5 tons of coal in winter, and at an average price of 1,200 yuan per ton, it costs about 6,000 yuan; after the switch to electricity, the average monthly electricity bill is about 700 yuan. According to government regulations, households that switch from coal to electricity, coal to gas, or coal to solar energy to heat their homes receive a specific subsidy.

The changes in Guyuan are a microcosm of the world's most significant and ambitious emissions reduction program. When every village and city in China follow this plan to achieve their emissions reduction targets, China will show the world that it is not just reducing emissions but that this emerging economy is creating a new path for human development.

Next, the Chinese will prove to the world that we can not only produce the chips that the Americans are desperately trying to contain, but we can also walk a different path to sustainable development different from the 500-year expansion of the West.

Washington’s anti-China mobilization will cause endless harm

of anti-China bills and established the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. Liberal and conservative think tanks have released various anti-China reports, and the media have comprehensively vilified China, which has had a great negative impact on bilateral relations.

In order to mobilize the people and society to act against China, the US government has carried out systematic anti-China propaganda. When Donald Trump was in office, he often attacked and discredited China through extreme remarks. Some senior hawkish officials and Congressmen tried their best to stage anti-China performances, and intelligence agencies and some think tank experts wantonly produced and disseminated disinformation about China. Through their "relentless efforts," China has been labeled by the US as engaging in "unfair trade practices," "stealing intellectual property rights," "genocide," "bullying neighboring countries," "authoritarian and totalitarian" and "coercing the island of Taiwan." These stigmatizing attacks on China are then spread to the whole public through American television, radio, newspapers, the internet, social media, and so on.

At the same time, the US is blocking voices from China in the country. Chinese journalists stationed in the US, the Confucius Institutes at American universities, people friendly to China, and relevant social media accounts have been labeled as "suppressing academic freedom," "infiltrating into the US" and thus been suppressed and blocked. With the tight information cocoon carefully woven by the US government, the image of China in the eyes of the American people has been severely distorted, and the negative perception of China has been continuously strengthened.

China insists on deepening reform, expanding high-level opening-up and adhering to the path of peaceful development, as well as adhering to a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security concept. It does not export ideology or engage in military expansion. It opposes bloc politics and camp confrontation, and has no intention to fight with the US in a "new cold war." On the one hand, although the Joe Biden administration expressed its willingness to engage in dialogue with China and emphasized that it would not engage in a "new cold war" with China, in its actions, it woos its allies and partners, resorts to "decoupling" and "de-risking," and engages in military containment and infiltration.

If the Biden administration is really unwilling to engage in a "new cold war," it should have stopped its anti-China mobilization. The US has entered a new election cycle. The US government has the responsibility to use pragmatic and rational voices to offset the impact of the anti-China rhetoric in the country. If the anti-China noises of extreme politicians are allowed to overwhelm public opinion, it will cause serious consequences that the entire world could not bear.

As a non-member, Serbia's cooperation with China not affected by EU politics

Editor's Note:  

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Through the lens of foreign pundits, we take a look at 10 years of the BRI - how it achieves win-win cooperation between China and participating countries of the BRI and how it has given the people of these countries a sense of fulfillment.

Serbia, a country from Eastern and Central Europe, is one of the most positive examples of cooperation under the BRI framework. In an interview with Global Times (GT) reporter Wang Wenwen, Katarina Zakic (Zakic), head of the Regional Center "Belt and Road" in Belgrade, the Institute of International Politics and Economics, shared her views why Serbia is distinct. 

This is the 16th piece of the series.

GT: What do you think of the advancement and development of the BRI over the past 10 years?

 Since the beginning, it was very clear that this is something extraordinary that doesn't happen every day. We knew that it would be a huge project and huge undertaking by China, to develop it and to fund it.

We have approached the 10th anniversary. When we look at the results, they are really impressive. Regarding the investments, we are reaching the amount of $1 trillion. Who can say which other countries invested so much in one project throughout 10 years? Even many of those projects do not 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 highly appreciate throughout this project and the idea that China had behind it was that each country should nominate the project it wants to conduct. And we would very much appreciate China's assistance in those regards. We should also highly appreciate that China did not only invest in energy and transportation. It also invested a lot in health sector, in tourism, in culture, in buildings and real estate. 

GT: What makes Serbia the pillar of China-Central and Eastern Europe cooperation?

 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, because otherwise the politics within the European Union will 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. Then we have excellent cooperation on 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 (CEEC) cooperation framework. 

Not only political and economic relations are on the 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 on even higher and higher level. 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 economic level or regarding the investments, there was always an understanding that we should speak about that and resolve it. In this way we distinct, especially within Balkan countries.

GT: Does Serbia face any pressure from the West in its cooperation with China? What domestic factors in Serbia will promote its deep integration into the BRI?

 For 22 years, Serbia is trying to become an EU member. When you are trying to become an EU member, all your policies and strategic decisions, not only in economic sense, but also in political sense, have to be in reliance to the EU policies. Countries within the EU have very different kind of cooperation with China. Hungary and Greece have more friendly cooperation with China than Germany, even though Germany is the main partner of China within the EU.

There are concerns coming from the EU about Serbia's cooperation with China. But there are also concerns about some other parts of our journey to the EU. China is just one of the things that the EU wants in a way to change within Serbia.  

In recent years, people in our government really did have the opportunity to learn a lot about China and now they have a deeper understanding about China. Many of us nowadays do understand China in a completely different sense. It was not something that was in a way normal for them. In previous time, for example, when I went to the primary school and high school, usually the students within those levels of education learn about history coming from Europe. They do not learn so much about the Middle East or Asia. Thanks to the China-CEEC and the BRI, we have more opportunities to learn. 

Nowadays, there is a better sense of understanding between all levels of the people within Serbia to understand Chinese people and Chinese culture. For example, Chinese restaurants are very popular in Serbia and people very much like Chinese food and they use chopsticks. So this is something normal to you. But for us, it means that many things in Serbia are big change. And for example, there are more and more books about China in Serbia.

GT: A large number of Chinese companies view Serbia as a "bridgehead" to enter the European market. What do you think of this trend?

 I think that's a very wise decision. There are many advantages for the Chinese companies to be here. We are in Europe. Our geographical position is very good. But since we are not the EU member and our economy is still developing, there are many advantages for the Chinese companies to have industrial house here or service house here in Serbia. Then because we are very close to the most developed countries within the EU, it is a great opportunity for the Chinese companies to open their production companies or services here in Belgrade.

Also, Serbia is in a way bridge between the East and the West. There are many opportunities that the Serbia government is giving the foreign investors here who want to operate in our country. It's not only just for the Chinese companies. It's a general policy regarding direct investments in Serbia, but I think that many Chinese companies realized all of the benefits to come to Serbia. 

We have five Chinese companies that work in the automotive car industry. They use Serbia as a hub for production. They export all of those things to the EU market. For them, it's ideal. They are very nearby to Europe. So the transportation costs are not so high. All of these things helped those Chinese companies make a decision to come into Serbia. They have the friendly environment, good labor force, very secure political and economic environment. And they can export to the EU market. 

GT: During the G20 summit in September, the US and some other countries outlined plans for a rail and shipping corridor that would connect India with the Middle East and ultimately Europe, another counterweight of the BRI. What do you think of this plan?

 I see it in a way to counterbalance China's economic and political rise. This project is just one of the cases in which we can see that currently we have some kind of situation that we had during the Cold War, in which the former Soviet Union had very dynamic battle with the US regarding who will have more power and recognition and who will have a better economic success. Now we have that kind of thing going on between China, the US, the EU and of course India as the developing country and economy that wants to be part of this play. 

I do see this project as the competition toward the BRI. But we need to wait and see. This is just a preliminary thing. At this moment, we do not know the financial construction of the whole project. We do not know how much money it will take, who will fund it, and how it will develop. 

GT: Some European countries, following the US, have been calling to de-risk from China. What do you think of this move?

 The US had a specific situation for many years being one global superpower. And it lasted for long. They had a very clear situation that there was not a power that would become in some periods of time economically and militarily strong to question the US position in this world.

When China started to rise, they were very aware that the Chinese economic development is very strong and very fast. But they were not in a way aware that China would become such a global political and military power as well. When you are no longer No.1, or somebody is questioning your position as a No.1 power in the world, of course that power would always try to use all tools and means to question the other part.

I see this part of political narrative of de-risking as a part of the US trying to still be the No.1 power in the world. At this moment, de-risking is just a part of the narrative to in a way encourage other countries not to cooperate with China so much and to questions China's position in everyday world. Some countries in Europe do try to use it as a term to become not so dependent on China and change this situation to be more self-sufficient. I see it as really a political narrative to destabilize China's position, not only in international politics, but also international economics.