Chengdu Universiade champion Ma Yigu transits intrinsic love into power for top podium

In the men's Sanda 60kg final of the Wushu event at the Chengdu World University Games in August, China's Ma Yigu overwhelmed Indonesia's Nada Guitara with a blast of rapid kicks winning 2-0 and claiming his first gold in an international multi-sports event.

China dominated the Wushu event with 11 golds and one bronze out of 20 golds on offer at the Chengdu Universiade. Indonesia demonstrated their growing enthusiasm about wushu by clinching four golds.

Hailing from a poverty-stricken family in Longjiagou village of Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, Ma, 20, told the Global Times after the game that wushu changed his life. 

"I would not have been able to become who I am if not for wushu. Sports have changed my life. No matter where you are from, you can work hard to chase your dream. I hope sports will attract more kids to explore the possibilities of life," said Ma. 

Living deep in the mountain, Ma had to help the family with herding cows and farming since early childhood. His intrinsic love for wushu came from a traditional sport of the Yi ethnic group. 

As the favorite sport of the Yi people, wrestling is prevalent in the life of the Yi ethnic group, from wedding ceremonies to local festivals. In Meigu county of the Liangshan prefecture, all of the 180 villages hold traditional wrestling activities throughout the year. 

Known for his ability to wrestle above his weight, Ma's father signed him up for a local amateur wushu school. But he was handed a reality check on the first day at the school, when he was beaten black and blue by his opponent.

Rapid progress

Failures lit up the fire in his heart and put him on a fast track to hone his kickboxing skills. His determination and perseverance paid off as he was scouted and made it to a prefecture-level wushu school. 

In a friendly game with the Sichuan provincial team in 2015, he was spotted by the provincial team coach for his potential and tenacity. 

He made his mark by snatching the gold in the 56kg Wushu event at the 2nd National Youth Games in 2019 and was recommended for admission to the Chengdu Sport University to pursue his dream. He went on to win 5th place in the 14th National Games in 2021.

In the third major multi-sports event of his career, Ma triumphed in the Sanda 60kg competition of the Chengdu Games. 

Ma told the Global Times that he was nervous at the beginning but learned to cope with stress game by game at the Universiade.

"Against tough adversaries, I gained match experience and learned to stay positive. I need to improve my strength and coordination," he said.

After a short break to reunite with his family, he has set his sights on the national trials in October. Winning the trials will qualify him for the World Wushu Championships in November.

"I dream of representing China in international competitions. The Chengdu Universiade is gone and I will go all out to fight for national glory in the world if possible," he noted.  

Fight for excellence

Wang Xiangquan, coach of Ma at the Wushu School of Chengdu Sport University, told the Global Times that he is proud of this intrepid and assiduous boy who cherishes every opportunity to fight for excellence. 

"Technically and mentally, he has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. He is skilled in wrestling and kicking, having a knack for counter-attacking. He is a self-disciplined fighter who is keen on following through a challenging training regime," said Wang. 

The coach expected him to stay composed and ramp up his offensive "weapons" for consistent performances. 

"He is building strength and improving his boxing to vary his offensive options. Sometimes he gets overexcited in competitions. He will learn to keep composure whether getting an upper hand or facing difficulties," Wang noted.

The end of the Chengdu Games marks the beginning of a new cycle of training as the focus has been shifted to the upcoming World Wushu Championships and the 15th National Games in 2025. 

Wang wished his apprentice to strive for more national glory and showcase Chinese wushu on the international stage.

The 16th World Wushu Championships, hosted by the International Wushu Federation (IWUF), is the highest-level international Wushu event. 

About 1,000 athletes from more than 80 countries and regions will participate in the biannual championships to be held in Texas, in the US from November 14 to 22.

Zhang Qiuping, secretary general of the IWUF, said that the IWUF has 158 member associations, and the Wushu World Championships is the first highest-level martial arts event held after the pandemic. 

"We look forward to seeing old friends and new athletes. I wish all the athletes have a good performance in the championships and make friends through martial arts," said Zhang.

IWUF has endeavored for years to try to make Wushu an official Olympic event. In 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that Wushu event will be included in the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games (which have been postponed to 2026). 

This is the first time that such an event has been included in the Youth Olympics, a milestone in the development of the sport.

Youth soccer tournament to attract top club youth teams from Germany, the Netherlands, Argentina, and Serbia

A youth soccer invitation tournament is set to kick off in early October in East China’s Fujian Province, attracting top youth soccer club teams from Germany, the Netherlands, Argentina, and Serbia, as well as top teams within the same bracket from China. During the competition, a forum focused on professional talent development in youth soccer training will also be held.

The inaugural Borussia Dortmund “Hooray Island Cup” youth soccer friendship tournament will take place from October 2 to 9 in Zhangzhou, Fujian Province, the Global Times learned from a press conference held at the Beijing Sport University on Friday.

The tournament is set for the U15 age group, and participating teams will include Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, the Netherlands’ Feyenoord Rotterdam, Argentina’s River Plate, Serbia’s Red Star Belgrade, as well as Chinese teams such as East China’s Zhejiang Province’s representative team and Chinese Football Boy, among others. The tournament has also invited teams from Asian countries such as Vietnam, which has recently made a name for itself in the youth training field.

During the tournament, a forum titled “Focusing on Development, Leading the Future – Chinese Path to Modernization of Youth Soccer Training” will be held on October 4 and 5. The forum will encompass four main themes: The development of domestic and international soccer club youth training systems, the construction of high-level soccer talent development, high-quality youth events, and the integration of professional talent development in soccer academies.

The forum is expected to invite representatives from sport education departments of the General Administration of Sport, the Ministry of Education, and the Chinese Football Association, as well as deans from domestic universities and sports colleges' soccer academies. It will also feature domestic and international soccer experts, scholars, renowned coaches, athletes, and soccer media professionals, all coming together to explore and discuss the development path of youth soccer training in China.

Zhang Jian, Vice President of the Beijing Sport University, emphasized during the meeting that the development of soccer should draw on advanced foreign experiences in youth talent development. It should integrate youth training, high-level play, and career planning based on China’s actual conditions.

200th gold medal of great significance: Xiangqi master

It was an arduous journey to win the 200th gold medal for the Chinese delegation at the Hangzhou Asian Games and the victory of special significance, Chinese chess grand master told the Global Times upon his arrival to Beijing on Monday evening.

During the men's individual final of Xiangqi, or Chinese chess, at the Games on Saturday, Zheng Weitong defeated his teammate Zhao Xinxin to win the 200th gold medal for the Chinese delegation, breaking the record of winning 199 golds at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.

The Chinese delegation finished the Hangzhou Games by setting a new record of bagging 201 golds, 111 silvers and 71 bronzes, the best feat accomplished by a single delegation in the history of the Asian multi-sport showpiece. China has dominated the medal table for 11 consecutive Asian Games since 1982.

On Zheng's triumphant return to Beijing, he was greeted with cheers and applause at the airport and shared his maiden Asian Games journey during an exclusive interview with the Global Times.

Zheng, who was promoted to grand master after winning the national Xiangqi championship in 2014, said he was delighted that Chinese chess made a comeback to the Asian Games after 13 years, which is a testament to the popularity of the mind sport.

Chinese chess became an official event of the Asian Games in 2010. This time a total of 39 athletes fought for three golds on offer in the mixed team and men's and women's individual competitions. 

When competing in both the mixed team and individual events, the 30-year-old Zheng said China faced stern challenges from foreign players. 

"The team event put our teamwork and mutual trust to the test. No matter who plays in each of the six rounds, we were at the coach's disposal and ready to shoulder the responsibility. We prepared each round as a team and communication was key to our success and helped relieve our pressure," said Zheng.

In the team final, Zhao Xinxin, Wang Yang and Wang Linna edged past opponents of Vietnam to claim gold. 

The historic moment came in the men's individual event. With the development of Xiangqi overseas, a growing number of foreign contestants have emerged and China is facing fierce competition in global stage. Two members of the Vietnam team play in China's national Xiangqi league.

"Foreign players have made tremendous progress and I was pushed to the wall at one stage where I had no margin for error. Even a draw would disqualify me from the final. I slogged through six rounds before reaching the final," Zheng noted.

Meanwhile, his teammate Zhao outsmarted a Vietnamese player to set up an all-Chinese individual final. 

Zheng admitted that his teammate was better prepared for the final and they didn't expect that the gold medal would set a new record for the Chinese delegation.

"I'm grateful to my teammates for our preparation for the Asian Games. We helped each other a lot during the Games. Putting our personal interests aside, our goal was to secure the gold for China," he said.

"We talked about whether China could reach the milestone of 200 golds the day before the final, but we had never thought that Xiangqi would be the record breaker. I was told the news after the final," said Zheng, who is also pursuing his MBA at Tsinghua University.

"Zhao was probably under more pressure as he was a Hangzhou native. I was lucky to win the final and be the one to set the new milestone. It was the result of the joint efforts made by all the Chinese athletes. Winning the 200th gold was a big surprise and is of great significance to me," he said.

China eventually won all of the three golds of Xiangqi at the Hangzhou Games. 

"Xiangqi is the only event showcasing Chinese characteristics at the Hangzhou Asian Games. The Asian Games is the best stage for us to promote Xiangqi and Chinese culture to the world," said Lü Qin, coach of Chinese Xiangqi team.

Without much time to rest, Zheng has already set his sights on the 5th National Mind Sports Games that will begin on October 25. 

"I need to go back to Tsinghua first and make up my studies," said Zheng, who will publish his debut book about Xiangqi opening variations soon.

Xiangqi is a two-player Chinese board game in the same family as Western chess, chaturanga, shogi and janggi. The present-day form of Xiangqi originated in China and is therefore commonly called Chinese chess.

CAA penalizes two marathons for organizational chaos

The Chinese Athletics Association (CAA) recently disclosed the outcomes of its investigation into the 2023 Dalian Marathon and the 2023 Qingdao Bay Bridge Marathon, which drew widespread attention for their organizational mishaps.

The announcement from Xinhua News Agency revealed that during the 33rd Dalian Marathon on October 15, 2023, "a race vehicle left the track at the point where the men's full course leaders were approaching the finish line, causing an unexpected halt that blocked the athletes'  running path." 

The incident disrupted the normal course of the race and had a negative social impact, the announcement stated.

In accordance with the "CAA Road Running Event Management Measures," the CAA demanded that the event organizing committee submit a written rectification report to the association by November 13, after conducting internal talks with the relevant referees and the executive company Zhimei Sports Culture (Zhejiang) Co, Ltd.

In another announcement regarding the 2023 Qingdao Bay Bridge Marathon on October 15, the CAA pointed out that two hours after the race started, "due to irrational layout, an interrupted flow, and ineffective evacuation work, a large number of people got stuck ted, resulting in chaos." Moreover, the announcement said that the event also presented problems such as the operating company's unsatisfactory and unprofessional planning, and an irregular and disorderly organization.

Based on the relevant regulations, the CAA revoked the eligibility of the Qingdao Bay Bridge Marathon Organizing Committee to apply for the CAA-certified event for the  year 2024, and also requested that they submit a written rectification report to the association by November 13. 

The Qingdao Bay Bridge Marathon, which was advertised as an exclusive event before the race, had attracted a lot of attention and anticipation from runners, and was fully booked in less than 20 minutes after registration opened. 

However, after the race, there were constant complaints online about various aspects of the event, such as insufficient supplies. On October 15, the Organizing Committee issued an apology statement, saying that it would provide free express delivery for the participants who did not receive the finisher medals and clothes.

In China, the popularity of marathons had increased prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

According to the CAA, China saw a marathon boom in 2018 with 278 approved events hosted,  followed by 330 races in 2019. In 2023, the lively marathon weekend again returned to the public eye. 

Alessio Punzi, manager of road running for World Athletics, stated earlier in October that 68 Chinese running events had submitted bids to be included in 2023, while the CAA reported that 133 road races had been registered in China between January and June.

On October 29, six marathon races kicked off in capital cities including Beijing,Xi'an, Chengdu, Changsha, Jinan, and Zhengzhou.

Guangzhou’s Buddhist temple features prominent cultural relics for first time, cements cultural bonds between Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao

Amid the first Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Chan Buddhism Culture Festival, the exhibition themed “Passing Down Dharma: Nanhua Buddhist Temple in The Past 1500 years,” kicked off at the Nanhua Temple, with a total of 53 pieces of treasured cultural relics showcased for the first time.

This exhibition aims to further strengthen exchanges with the Buddhist community in Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macao and the Belt and Road partner countries to contribute to the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and to enrich the connotation of the humanistic Bay Area, according to the media report. 

The Northern Qi Dynasty (550-557) bronze statue of the Buddha as the earliest of the numerous artifacts in the collection of Nanhua Temple is also featured at the exhibition. 

Another attraction is the wooden figure of a Buddhist monk, dated Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). The carving style is thick and simple, and it is an outstanding representative of the existing Northern Song Dynasty wooden carving statues of five hundred Buddhist monks.

Nanhua Temple in Shaoguan, South China’s Guangdong Province, is the birthplace of southern Zen advocated by Mater Huineng (AD638-713), who is highly respected as the Sixth Patriarch of Zen Buddhism.

Built in AD502, the temple preserves many of the national treasures, including the “Da Zang Sutra,” decree and cassock.

One of the most precious relics in the temple is the mummified body of Master Huineng. He sits cross-legged with his eyes closed in the center of the Six Patriarch Hall, and stands about 80 centimeters tall. The mummy is painted reddish brown and sits on a sheet of linen cloth. 

Nigeria: Embassy diplomats experience the Traditional Chinese Medicine culture

An event to promote Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was held at the Nigerian Embassy in Beijing, themed "Promote Chinese Medicine and Global Health." 

The event was attended by the Nigerian Ambassador to China Baba Ahmad Jidda, Nigerian Deputy Ambassador Fumen Tyeni Dogo, Secretary General of the China Information Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine Kang Xiaofei, and more than 40 experts in the TCM and healthcare industry from all over the country.

Dogo praised the significant contribution made by the culture of TCM to the world, and expressed hopes that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will promote common cooperation and development of the culture in more countries. The Nigerian Embassy in China also took the opportunity to promote cultural exchanges between China and Nigeria, and further strengthen cooperation in the field of TCM.

During the event, a number of invited Chinese medicine experts communicated their experiences and showcased technology, while exchanging Chinese medicine treatment protocols, adding impetus to the high-quality development of the Chinese medicine cause.

In order to let the Nigerian diplomats experience the charm of Chinese medicine culture, Chinese medicine experts carried out a clinical checkups at the end of the activity, further showcasing the therapeutic qualities of the unique Chinese medicine tuina remedial massage.

Xi’s reply letter to Philadelphia Orchestra praises cultural envoy for connecting two peoples

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 the writers' sentiments, friendship, and expectations.

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

Through his letters, Xi has corresponded with international friends from all walks of life on numerous occasions. His letters have also been delivered to "home" senders such as Chinese experts and artists. The Global Times traced and contacted some of the addressees of Xi's letters to hear the inspiring stories behind the letters.

This installment tells the story of letters exchanged between Xi and Matias Tarnopolsky, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
When Chinese President Xi Jinping replied to a letter from Matias Tarnopolsky, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra, on November 10, the friendship of half a century was further strengthened through the art of music. This not only reflects the importance that both sides attach to cultural exchanges, but also provides a good opportunity for cooperation and understanding between the two countries.

On the evening of November 10, the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Beijing hosted a concert titled "50 Years of Friendship" to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Philadelphia Orchestra's first visit to China in 1973. The concert was performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra and the China National Symphony Orchestra.

As the baton of Tristan Rais-Sherman, assistant conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, was raised, the Overture of Candide composed by American conductor Leonard Bernstein was played to unveil the performance. The spirited piece was followed by a tranquil Chinese melody, Two Springs Reflect the Moon, that both Chinese and American audiences were familiar with.

Ahead of Friday's special concert, the letter was read inside the concert hall, in which President Xi expressed hopes that orchestras and artists from China, the US, and across the world would persist in efforts to strengthen people-to-people ties between China and the US, and spread friendship among the peoples of the world. Tarnopolsky said he was honored and grateful.

The concert was held at a special moment as, on the other side of the NCPA, the ballet Giselle mounted by the American Ballet Theater was also in progress on the same day.

These cultural exchanges were held only several days ahead of the planned meeting of the heads of state of China and the US.

"It's going to be an important meeting, and we're very much looking forward to it and receiving President Xi in our country," Tarnopolsky said on the day of the concert.

During the interview after the inaugural performance in Beijing, Tarnopolsky told the Global Times that he was honored and grateful to receive the letter from Xi.

"It is an honor for the Philadelphia Orchestra to receive a letter from President Xi in this moment of 50 years of visits to China. And we're very grateful for the warmth of the welcome that the Philadelphia Orchestra always receives in China," he said.

"President Xi has recognized that is a very important gesture and encourages us to keep coming and keep playing music and making these connections with the people of China."

No matter how the world changes, he believes that there are neither hierarchies nor differences between people when it comes to music. "Music can give voice to ideas that words alone cannot convey," added the CEO.
Collaborative endeavor

Tarnopolsky firstly wrote to Xi, reviewing the history of the orchestra's ties with China and introducing the activities to be held in China in November to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its first China tour.

In return, President Xi wrote back to Tarnopolsky.

In his reply, President Xi said that he hopes the orchestra and artists from China, the US, and across the world will continue efforts to strengthen people-to-people ties between China and the US, and spread friendship among the peoples of the world.

Half a century ago, the orchestra's historic China tour marked a thaw in China-US cultural exchanges, which was a very important part in the normalization process of the two countries' diplomatic relations. Since then, the orchestra had visited China 12 times as an active cultural envoy, playing an instrumental role in strengthening China-US ties, Xi said.

Over the course of half a century, the orchestra has served as a dynamic cultural envoy between China and the US. Some of the musicians, such as Davyd Booth, were part of the ensemble since their first visit to China in 1973.

Ryan Fleur, executive director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, told the Global Times on Friday that the 50th anniversary celebration was a collaborative endeavor from both sides, which was made possible by the invitation from The Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries that has been their partner since 1973.

But the connection of the orchestra with China goes back even further: As early as the 1940s, the orchestra staged concerts to raise funds for China's Eighth Route Army led by the Communist Party of China (CPC), in their resistance against Japanese aggression during World War II.

"It was a great achievement. Both China and the US want to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the tour, which was a historic event. Music had a profound impact on people's lives, and the orchestras' performance in 1973 was a life-changing event for many people," Tarnopolsky told the Global Times in a previous interview.

Adding to that, the CEO gave a glimpse into the perceived future.

"We're planning the next 50 years. And we also have another Chinese Lunar New Year concert planned in Philadelphia, so we'll be celebrating Chinese Lunar New Year in January."

Exchanges beyond music

Visits by the Philadelphia Orchestra to China over the years have been very influential to musicians from the two countries. They not only get to share the same stage, but also have exchanges beyond the musical arena.

Fifty years has passed, contributions by two members of the then Central Philharmonic (now China National Symphony Orchestra), 90-year-old Zhu Xinren and 88-year-old Yang Shi, in training with US musicians continue to be unforgettable experiences.

Eugene Ormandy, the then conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra until 1980, and other US musicians watched a performance by their Chinese counterparts on September 15, 1973. They showed great interest in the string ensemble Two Springs Reflect the Moon, which had just been adapted by Wu Zuqiang, leader of the composition group of the Central Philharmonic. The charm of Chinese melody immediately attracted them.

"They asked to get the score sheets in the hopes of performing it in the US. It was just finished a year before by Wu and the debut had made it possible for it to head to the US stage," violinist Zhu recalled.

Chinese conductor Li Delun led the Chinese orchestra in a performance of one movement from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. He then handed his baton to Ormandy and requested that he conduct the next movement. Ormandy led the orchestra to thunderous applause.

"Music connects the world. He also praised us young performers for our strong receptivity. This can be said to have been a worldwide cooperation," said Zhu.

When musicians had talks after the performances, US musicians were particularly surprised when they saw the musical instruments that their Chinese counterparts held, recalled Yang.

At the time, the conditions under which our orchestra mounted performances were not good as instruments were broken or glued back together, and the scores were old handwritten ones and were pasted together. "They didn't expect that our musicians could play such good music with such instruments."

Musical instruments were given as gifts to each other. Chinese musicians were moved when their US counterparts presented them with instruments such as a clarinet, trumpet, flute, and a set of triangles, as well as scores of famous European and American composers, and hundreds of records and orchestra's professional books.

For the Central Philharmonic, which was facing a difficult period at the time, these instruments and materials solved the orchestra's urgent needs. Yang Shi said: "They sent us a batch of woodwind and brass instruments, which was a timely help. But the instruments we gave them also made them even more surprised and happy."

The Chinese musicians presented pipa, Chinese gongs, erhu, flower drums, and other national musical instruments that best represent Chinese music as gifts to US musicians. Zhu recalled: "The indispensable Chinese musical instrument is the gong. The gong we sent was custom-made by a master from Shandong. The diameter of the gong is 1.1 meters. Their gong is only 60 centimeters. So when they saw that we brought in such a big one, they were all shocked."

This past weekend, China again bestowed another gift to the Philadelphia Orchestra to mark the special occasion: A rare vinyl record of Yellow River.

As Yin Bo, deputy director of the China National Symphony Orchestra, noted on Friday, Chinese and American musicians will collaborate through music to foster cultural understanding among the youth of both nations.

"The gesture from President Xi was an acknowledgment and an incentive for most literary and art workers," Liu Zhiyong, deputy chief of the same orchestra said. "President Xi's reply letter conveyed his sincere aspiration for enhancing extensive cultural exchanges and cooperation between China and the US."

China’s wisdom, energy, win-win mindset appreciated by Indonesian people, creates model for global cooperation: Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia

Editor's Note:

The Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway (HSR), a landmark project under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is undergoing intensive joint commissioning and testing, paving the way for commercial operations scheduled to begin soon this year.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang aboard a bullet train during a trial run on Wednesday during his official trip to the ASEAN summit in Indonesia from September 5 to 7, Reuters reported.

The Jakarta-Bandung HSR is the first high-speed railway line in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, connecting Indonesia's most densely populated areas.

As the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway line is set to open, Global Times reporters Hu Yuwei and Zhao Juecheng (GT) interviewed the Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia Lu Kang (Lu), who is also a former spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Lu believed that the Jakarta-Bandung HSR will bring tangible benefits to Indonesia, while expecting the project to become a new growth point and create a high-speed railway economic corridor. He argued that the consensus reached by the heads of China and Indonesia further illuminates the direction to be taken and injects strong momentum into future relations. China supports Indonesia's chairmanship of ASEAN and is willing to deepen comprehensive strategic partnerships with ASEAN members.
GT: What changes will the Jakarta-Bandung HSR bring to Indonesia? What are local people's expectations?

Lu: The opening of the Jakarta-Bandung HSR will bring many tangible benefits to Indonesia such as more efficient travel conditions. The travel time from Jakarta to Bandung will be reduced from three and a half hour to just 40 minutes, effectively alleviating commuting traffic pressure between the two cities.

In the long run, the project will further boost investment and create employment opportunities for the people, and drive commercial development and tourism along the route. It may even become a new growth point, accelerating the formation of a high-speed railway economic corridor.

On June 22, I was invited to take a trial ride on the train together with Indonesia's Coordinator for Cooperation with China and Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil, and president of railway operator China State Railway Group Liu Zhenfang. During the trial ride, the train reached a speed of over 355 kilometers per hour, surpassing the current fastest commercial speed of any high-speed railway in the world, which amazed our Indonesian friends and earned praise for Chinese-made high-speed railway technology.

On that day, I also noticed that many locals were watching the train along the way. I was told that Indonesian people take videos of the passing trains along the high-speed railway every day, which reflects their high expectations for the project.

GT: The construction of the Jakarta-Bandung HSR marks the first all-round implementation of Chinese high-speed railway technology abroad, from the whole system and all of its elements, to the whole industrial chain. Does it mean a big step for China's high-speed railway manufacturing going global?

Lu: The Jakarta-Bandung HSR vividly embodies the concept of "extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits" under the BRI framework and has important reference significance for us to carry out other similar projects.

The successful completion of the Jakarta-Bandung HSR directly proves that Chinese manufacturing technology is mature, efficient, internationally standardized, adaptable to local environments, and actively integrated into the development plans of the host country. This will greatly facilitate China's manufacturing going global and inspire developing countries to have confidence in pursuing development paths that suit their own national conditions.
GT: According to your observations how has the BRI benefited livelihoods and brought tangible benefits to the Indonesian people?

Lu: Taking infrastructure connectivity as an example, since the proposal of the BRI, China and Indonesia have cooperated to build a number of high-quality projects, covering areas such as power plants, roads and bridges, dams, and telecommunication networks, making positive contributions to Indonesia's passion to become a traffic hub.

A series of iconic projects have been completed, such as the Suramadu Bridge, the longest sea-crossing bridge in Southeast Asia, the Tayan Bridge, the longest corbeled stone-arch bridge in Indonesia, and the Jatigede Dam, the second-largest dam in Indonesia, bringing convenience to the local populations.

Chinese-funded enterprises in Indonesia have not only provided a large number of job opportunities for the locals but also contributed to the development of local livelihoods through knowledge and technology sharing. Taking the Jakarta-Bandung HSR as an example, over 75 percent of the services and procurement for the project are sourced locally in Indonesia, significantly boosting the local supply chain and employment. It is estimated that the project will create 30,000 job opportunities in Indonesia.

GT: Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo On July 27 in Chengdu when Widodo visited China. How do you evaluate the achievements of President Widodo's visit to China this time?

Lu: This is the third face-to-face meeting between the two heads of state within a year, which reflects the high level and special nature of China-Indonesia relations. As President Xi said, on the path to national modernization and rejuvenation, China and Indonesia share highly aligned visions and present opportunities for each other's development, are like-minded companions, and good partners.

This further clears the direction and injects strong momentum into the future friendship between China and Indonesia. After the meeting, the two leaders witnessed the signing of multiple bilateral cooperation agreements, including agricultural product exports to China, health cooperation, joint research and development, as well as the construction of the new Indonesian capital and the "Two Countries, Twin Parks" project, achieving significant practical results.

GT: This year marks the 10th anniversary of the BRI and the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Indonesia. We have noticed that President Widodo's "Global Maritime Fulcrum (GMF)" strategy resonates with China's 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative. How do you envision future cooperation between China and Indonesia with synergy of strategies?

Lu: In November 2022, Chinese President Xi and Indonesian President Widodo reached an important consensus on building a community of shared future between China and Indonesia. They agreed to take the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Indonesia in 2023 as an opportunity to create a new pattern of high-level cooperation.

The two sides signed a cooperation plan under the framework of aligning the BRI with the GMF concept, and significant progress has been made in its implementation. The Jakarta-Bandung HSR is one of the flagship projects.

In July this year, the two heads of state met again in Chengdu and reached an important consensus on deepening strategic cooperation between China and Indonesia.

We will take the 10th anniversary of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries and the first year of the China-Indonesia community of shared future as a chance to promote deeper and higher-level strategic cooperation between the two sides, injecting more certainty and positive energy into the region and the world.

GT: How do you evaluate the current level of cooperation between China and Indonesia in the fields of economy, trade, and investment? What suggestions do you have for further enhancing bilateral economic and trade cooperation?

Lu: In recent years, with the comprehensive integration of the BRI and Indonesia's GMF, China-Indonesia economic and trade cooperation has achieved fruitful results. China has been Indonesia's largest trading partner for 10 consecutive years. In 2022, the bilateral trade volume between China and Indonesia reached $149.1 billion, a year-on-year increase of 20.16 percent. Investment cooperation is also a highlight of the two countries' economic and trade cooperation. In 2022, the Chinese mainland's investment in Indonesia reached $8.2 billion, a year-on-year increase of 156.25 percent, maintaining its position as the second-largest foreign investor in Indonesia.

According to the consensus reached by both sides earlier this year, China is willing to further expand the importation of Indonesian bulk commodities and high-quality agricultural and fishery products according to market demand.

The Chinese government encourages its enterprises to invest in Indonesia and expand cooperation in infrastructure, green development, the digital economy, healthcare, and other fields. We aim to create highlights in maritime cooperation and promote the resumption of fisheries cooperation.

GT: In the current tense geopolitical situation, ASEAN members have become objects of competition for major powers. Indonesia is the key member of the ASEAN. How can China-Indonesia cooperation better deal with geopolitics challenges and achieve long-term stability?

Lu: This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries and the 20th anniversary of China's accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. As President Xi once said, the Asia-Pacific is no one's backyard and should not become an arena for big power contests and no attempt to wage a new cold war will ever be allowed by the people or by our times. This is the inevitable requirement for maintaining peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the common wishes of people in the ASEAN and other countries.

One important reason why the ASEAN can maintain its central position in the regional architecture is its long-standing commitment to independence, non-alignment, and neutrality. The ASEAN has repeatedly stated that it will adhere to openness, inclusiveness, dialogue, and cooperation, and focus on economic development without aligning with or targeting any party.

In the process of achieving national modernization and rejuvenation, China and Indonesia have highly compatible ideas that present mutually beneficial development opportunities. They are like-minded partners and good companions.

China supports Indonesia's role as the rotating chair of the ASEAN this year and is willing to deepen comprehensive strategic partnerships with ASEAN countries, including Indonesia, and jointly create a positive energy.

GT: Shortly after taking office as Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia in 2022, you opened a Twitter account. Do you have any interesting or memorable stories to share with us about your interactions with locals on social media?

Lu: Since opening my Twitter account over a year ago, I have been able to interact closely with Indonesian and global netizens through this platform, and I am deeply impressed by their interest in China.

A friend once told me that the Indonesian people seem less interested in politics, but the content I shared on Twitter about President Xi's activities and the interpretation of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era have received widespread and positive responses.

In the comments section, many Indonesian netizens have expressed their appreciation, saying that Indonesians like to cooperate with China for development and that cooperation with China is friendly trade, not a command.

Such enthusiastic feedback was unexpected but reasonable. China's wisdom and solutions have made it possible to solve more global issues and inject new energy into global development.

Solomon Islands to undoubtedly become a 'magnet' for investments from China: first Chinese Ambassador to the Solomon Islands

Over the last four years, China-Solomon Islands cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has achieved fruitful results, bringing profound benefits to both nations. In a recent interview with the Global Times, the first Chinese Ambassador to the Solomon Islands expressed confidence in the future cooperation between China and the Solomon Islands.

"The Solomon Islands will undoubtedly become a magnet for Chinese business investments," Li Ming, who served as the Chinese Ambassador to the Solomon Islands from September 2020 to September 2023, told the Global Times.

According to Li, the development of China-Solomon Islands relations has been multifaceted. At the highest level of engagement, Prime Minister Sogavare has made two official visits to China, establishing a comprehensive strategic partnership of mutual respect and common development for a new era. Head-of-state diplomacy has charted a grand blueprint for high-quality joint construction of the BRI and provided strategic guidance for bilateral relations.

In terms of infrastructure connectivity, China has become the Solomon Islands' largest infrastructure cooperation partner. China-aided facilities like the Pacific Games' main stadium and the Solomon Islands National University dormitories have become local landmarks, providing essential support for the hosting of major sporting events, promoting economic and social development.

Regarding trade facilitation, China has been the Solomon Islands' largest trading partner for several consecutive years. China provides 98 percent tariff-free treatment to products from Solomon Islands in nearly all categories, and both countries are steadily advancing cooperation in inspection and quarantine, creating favorable conditions for the expansion of exports of agricultural and fishery products from the Solomon Islands to China, leading to an increase in incomes for its people.

In terms of financial connectivity, an increasing number of Chinese companies are turning their attention to the Solomon Islands. During Prime Minister Sogavare's visit to China in July, a "China-Solomon Islands High-Level Enterprise Exchange Meeting" was held in Beijing, at which Chinese enterprises in agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, energy and mineral resources, infrastructure, telecommunications, and tourism engaged in in-depth communication with representatives from the Solomon Islands. It is believed that in the next phase, the Solomon Islands will become a magnet for Chinese business investments.

In terms of people-to-people exchanges, China has established friendly relations with multiple provinces and cities in the Solomon Islands. More than 100 young students from the Solomon Islands have come to China to further their studies under government scholarships. China also continues to be committed to improving the Solomon Islands' medical and healthcare conditions by donating a large quantity of medical and epidemic prevention supplies, and Chinese medical teams have alleviated the suffering of many patients in the country. When the Chinese navy's Ark Peace hospital ship visited the Solomon Islands, it treated tens of thousands of patients in just one week.

In September 2019, the Solomon Islands established diplomatic relations with China, becoming one of China's newest diplomatic partners. Less than a month after establishing diplomatic ties, Prime Minister Sogavare visited China and signed a Memorandum of Understanding on jointly building the BRI, media sources reported.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the friendly cooperation between the two countries has steadily advanced and has been at the forefront of China's relations with Pacific island countries, becoming a model of solidarity, cooperation, and joint development among large and small countries and developing countries.

In a previous interview with the Global Times in May, former ambassador Li said, "As the first Chinese Ambassador to the Solomon Islands, my most prominent impression after arriving in the Solomon Islands was the enthusiasm and expectations of the Solomon Islands' government and people for China-Solomon Islands relations." 

He told the Global Times that since the establishment of diplomatic relations, both governments and peoples have been committed to promoting friendship, expanding cooperation, and have achieved fruitful results, proving with practical actions that the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Solomon Islands is on the right side of history. 

"Various sectors of the country's society have shown significantly increased enthusiasm for cooperation with China, with a more resolute attitude toward upholding China-Solomon Islands relations, and support for the One-China principle has become a common consensus among various sectors," he said.

Chinese special envoy to visit Middle East as Israel-Hamas violence worsens

China's special envoy on the Middle East issue will visit the relevant countries in the region in the near future, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday, as the Israel-Hamas conflict has shown no signs of easing and chaos, panic and confusion filled the region under an Israeli barrage of airstrikes ahead of a ground invasion. 

Wang's comments were made while answering questions on the sidelines of the 12th EU-China Strategic Dialogue with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. China's top diplomat said that in view of the current grave situation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, China believes it is imperative that a ceasefire be put in place as soon as possible. 

China will provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian National Authority through UN channels, Wang said. He noted that the root cause of the conflict lies in the historical injustice suffered by the Palestinian people, which has not been rectified. China believes that only when the "two-state solution" is fully realized will there be real peace in the Middle East.

Israel says it has attacked 750 military targets overnight in the densely populated Gaza Strip, Al Jazeera reported Friday. As of press time, at least 1,537 Palestinians have been killed and 6,612 wounded in Israeli air attacks on Gaza. The number of people killed in Israel has reached 1,300.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Friday that China will "make the utmost effort" to prevent the conflict from further escalating and to avoid a severe humanitarian crisis.

In recent days, China's special envoy on the Middle East issue Zhai Jun held a series of phone calls with the foreign ministers of Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle Eastern countries to discuss the current situation, stressing that the fundamental solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies in implementing the two-state solution. 

As international aid groups warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis, the US has given "a powerful green light" to Israel to march ahead with its retaliation against Hamas with the arrival of Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday along with shipments of US weapons.

Chinese experts believe that the US does have the capability to mediate and prevent further escalation in the Middle East, but lacks the motivation and will to do so. 

"Peace or conflict in the Middle East doesn't really affect the US because the region's strategic importance has been decreasing in recent years, partly due to reduced American dependence on Middle Eastern oil and gas resources," Zhu Yongbiao, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at Lanzhou University, told the Global Times on Friday. What the US really cares about is whether Israel will lose influence over the Arab world, which could indirectly affect its control over the whole region, Zhu said. 

In that sense, the peace that the US wishes to see is a conditional one that caters to its own strategic interests, and it will go to great lengths to ensure that, rather than genuinely caring about the suffering of people in the region, observers noted. 

A subtle change has been observed in the attitudes toward the conflict in the Western world. The EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell said Tuesday that Israel's actions in Gaza may have already breached international law, as he underlined the need for the EU to continue funding the Palestinian Authority. 

Hamas' surprise attack on Israel has been widely labeled as a "9/11 moment" and the darkest moment for the Israeli people in decades. Kenneth Roth, former executive director of Human Rights Watch, however, believed that the analogy carries a cautionary note, because if the Israeli government responds to this moment like the US did, it will soon follow the same route from global sympathy to global outrage, The Guardian reported. 

If Israel insists on launching a large-scale ground assault in Gaza or even attempts to exert military control over the region, the conflict may be further prolonged and intensified, Zhu warned. With the US and UK adding fuel to the fire, the exacerbating tensions may force some Islamic countries to respond, making the situation even more complex and difficult to control, and providing opportunities for other forces to take advantage of the social unrest.

Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amirabdollahian has already said that if Israel's bombardment of Gaza continues, the war may open on "other fronts," AP reported Friday.