July 2019

China’s gun-control success a lesson for US

Both the US and Brazil have met problems in gun control as their regulations lag behind the development of national conditions. Loopholes appeared in management and could be further broadened.

A school shooting Wednesday in Sao Paulo, Brazil killed 10 people, including the two shooters. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, the “Tropical Trump,” suggested doing something about gun ownership, but he seemed not to have done anything more than the real Donald Trump. Maybe they both should learn from China’s experiences.

With a population of over 8 million and about 2 million privately owned guns, Switzerland has proved that strict laws and a high happiness level can help stop mass shootings.

Unfortunately, happiness is barely an option for the US as it has been through drastic changes that widened the gap between the rich and the poor as well as stratified the country. Some of the main factors that support people’s happiness – caring, generosity, honesty, income and good governance – are being challenged in the US. As a result, the American people are undergoing psychological changes which could be deeply related to the increase in mass shootings.

Along with the declined happiness level, the fading away of social identity and the collapse in overall societal morality have made people prone to committing senseless acts – not to mention if or when they are equipped with lethal firearms.

According to Quartz, Trump once asked, “Does anyone have any ideas for how to stop it [mass shooting]?” China’s achievements in gun control could be an answer.

China is now the country with the fewest gun-linked crimes in the world. This results from constant, strict control and regulation of firearms, which have contributed to China’s rapid economic growth and the stability of society in the past four decades. Private possession of firearms is generally prohibited with extremely limited exceptions in China. Relevant laws provide harsh punishments for gun control violations. All these measures guarantee that guns are not in the wrong hands.

The US government needs to adopt updated and stricter laws to ensure firearms are in the right hands. Stronger gun laws could result in fewer gun deaths. But focusing on gun laws for the sake of shootings may lead to omissions in regulations that should be more comprehensive.

In recent years, the Chinese government took further steps to adjust and tighten its regulations on gun ownership in accordance with evolving national conditions. Although the moves are based on China’s conditions, the Chinese general road map for strict gun control is worth mulling over for the US, Brazil or any other country with similar headaches. China has developed its proper way, and so can the US.

[Infographics] Guangdong’s foreign trade & investment in first half of 2018

Data of Guangdong’s foreign trade and investment in the first half of 2018 shows that both FDI and import export value are driving the province’s economy growth.

For instance, from January to June of 2018, Guangdong saw a 250% surge in numbers of new foreign-invested projects. The trade with Belt and Road countries reached 728.9 billion yuan.

More details of trade data follow below:

Build momentum for Kim-Trump summit

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met on Saturday for the second time on the North Korean side of Panmunjom. The two leaders showed the world a scene of a warm embrace, which seems to have demonstrated their determination to jointly promote the Korean Peninsula peace process.

On Sunday, Moon personally briefed the outside world on the outcome of the summit, noting that “Chairman Kim and I have agreed that the June 12 summit should be held successfully.” He said Kim reiterated his firm will on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, adding Pyongyang wants to figure out whether Washington can be trusted to end the hostile relationship with North Korea after denuclearization and ensure the future security of North Korea.

Almost at the same time as Moon’s press conference, US President Donald Trump confirmed the plan of the June 12 summit in Singapore “hasn’t changed.”

After a series of bouts that has not followed the common template, preparations for the US-North Korea summit have restarted in full swing. The good news is both Pyongyang and Washington understand each other more and they know better what will be discussed during the meeting as well as the difficulties.

The bad news is the previous round of the game between the US and North Korea may encourage the White House’s obsession with its hard-line approach. In the future, Washington may threaten to withdraw from negotiations easily so as to pressurize Pyongyang and Seoul.

It seems that maximum pressure is becoming the trump card of Trump’s team. It may help the White House make some breakthroughs in difficult negotiations, but won’t help it gain any substantial result it wants. Negotiations are aimed at looking for consensus, not one side conquering another.

In the past few days, Pyongyang showed restraint, rationality and sincerity to achieve permanent peace on the peninsula through denuclearization. Washington needs to stay sober at this time and not turn the hard-won meeting into a choice of either complete success or complete failure, turning the peace process on the peninsula into a roll of the dice.

Judging from the current situation, it is highly likely that if the Trump-Kim summit goes ahead, it will bear fruit. It seems that Pyongyang, which has repeatedly expressed its willingness to denuclearize, will not recede from this goal.

While the US owns a clear advantage in strength, it should respect North Korea’s legitimate security concern rather than arrogantly trying to bring Pyongyang to its knees. This is a crucial precondition for successful negotiations between the two. Maximum pressure is not as effective as the White House thinks, because under such pressure, Pyongyang completed key breakthroughs in nuclear and missile technologies.

It is highly anticipated that the Trump-Kim summit will be held and a handshake or embrace between the two leaders with strong personalities could create miracles. As Trump often says, we’ll see what happens.

Vietnam nabs 125 kilos of rhino horn

Fifty-five pieces of rhino horn were found encased in plaster at an airport in the Vietnamese capital.

The state is both a consumption hub and popular transit point for the multibillion dollar trade in animal parts.

The 125-kilogram haul of rhino horn discovered at Hanoi’s Noi Bai airport on Thursday was found after the carefully disguised shipment aroused suspicion.

It was not immediately clear which African country the shipment originated from. The parts were found the same day police arrested a key wildlife trafficking suspect and two other men after seven frozen tiger carcasses were discovered in their vehicle in a parking lot.

The busts follow a record seizure in Singapore a week ago of nearly nine tons of ivory and a huge stash of pangolin scales destined for Vietnam.

Elephant tusks, pangolins, tiger parts and rhino horn are all sold on the black market in Vietnam. Rhino horn is especially prized, with one kilogram fetching up to $60,000.

It is in high demand in Vietnam where some believe that it can help cure diseases and hangovers when ground into powder. Poachers in Africa have decimated wild rhino populations to meet demand despite the trade being banned globally in the 1970s.

Only about 29,000 rhinos survive in the wild, down from half a million at the beginning of the 20th century.

China issues white paper on national defense in new era

Photo: Liu Xuanzun/GT

China on Wednesday issued a white paper to expound on its defensive national defense policy in the new era and explain the practice, purposes and significance of China’s efforts to build a fortified national defense and a strong military.

The white paper titled “China’s National Defense in the New Era,” consisting of 27,000 Chinese characters, was released by the State Council Information Office, with a view to helping the international community better understand China’s national defense.

The main body of the white paper was divided into six sections: the international security situation, China’s defensive national defense policy in the new era, fulfilling the missions and tasks of China’s armed forces in the new era, reform in China’s national defense and armed forces, reasonable and appropriate defense expenditure, and actively contributing to building a community with a shared future for mankind.

It is the 10th white paper on national defense the Chinese government has issued since 1998 and the first comprehensive one since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012.

A number of figures were also used in the white paper and 10 tables on topics such as the breakdown of China’s defense expenditure and international cooperation activities were added as appendices.

Win-win cooperation remain the irreversible trends of the times, the white paper noted, adding that there are prominent destabilizing factors and uncertainties in international security, and the world is not yet a tranquil place.

According to the white paper, resolutely safeguarding China’s sovereignty, security and development interests is the fundamental goal of China’s national defense in the new era, whose distinctive feature is never seeking hegemony, expansion or spheres of influence.

Identifying this feature, the white paper clearly demonstrated the defensive nature of China’s national defense policy and the transparency of its strategic intent, said Shi Qingren, an associate research fellow with the Academy of Military Sciences (AMS) of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

“The white paper, for the first time, outlines China’s national defense policy system,” said Cao Yanzhong, an AMS research fellow. “It clearly shows the world the strategic direction, basic principles and global significance of the development of China’s national defense and the Chinese armed forces.”

The white paper gave detailed information on China’s defense expenditure, described as reasonable and appropriate.

Compared to other major countries, the ratios of China’s defense expenditure to GDP and to government expenditure, as well as the per capita defense expenditure of the country, remain at a relatively low level, it added.

The white paper also devoted a section to explain Chinese military’s efforts and contribution to building a community with a shared future for mankind and fulfilling its international obligations as the armed forces of a major country.

China firmly believes that hegemony and expansion are doomed to failure, and security and prosperity shall be shared, said the white paper.

Worsening world hunger affects 821m: UN

More than 821 million people suffered from hunger worldwide last year, the United Nations reported Monday – the third year in a row that the number has risen.

After decades of decline, malnutrition began to increase in 2015, mainly because of climate change and war. Reversing the trend is one of the 2030 targets of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals which aim to improve the planet and its people.

But getting to a world where no one is suffering from hunger by then remains an “immense challenge,” the report said, noting the number of people without enough to eat had risen from 811 million in 2017.

“We will not achieve zero hunger by 2030,” said David Beasley, head of the World Food Programme, one of the UN agencies contributing to the report.

“That’s a bad trend. Without food security we will never have peace and stability,” said Beasley, deploring that the media carry more talk about Brexit and US President Donald Trump than children dying of hunger.

He warned that extremist groups were using hunger and control over food supplies as a weapon to divide communities or recruit new members.

“The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World” report was produced by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other United Nations agencies including the World Health Organization.

“To safeguard food security and nutrition, it is critical to already have in place economic and social policies to counteract the effects of adverse economic cycles when they arrive, while avoiding cuts in essential services, such as healthcare and education, at all costs,” it said.

A “structural transformation” was needed to include the poorest people in the world, the authors said.

This would require “integrating food security and nutrition concerns into poverty reduction efforts” while tackling gender inequality and the exclusion of certain social groups, they said.

Malnutrition remains widespread in Africa, where around 20 percent of the population is affected, and in Asia where more than 12 percent of people experience it. In Latin America and the Caribbean, fewer than seven percent of people are affected.

Adding those hit by food insecurity gives a total of more than two billion people, eight percent of whom are in North America and Europe, who don’t regularly have access to enough nutritious, safe food, the report said.

Intl conference for media in education kicks off in Shenzhen

The International Conference for Media in Education (ICoME) kicked off in Shenzhen, South China’s Guangdong province on July 23.

Themed around “artificial intelligence (AI) and education,” ICoME will discuss the latest development trends of AI in the world, AI education issues, as well as the integration of education and AI. In adding to providing an international exchange platform, the conference is expected to promote the cooperation of domestic and foreign AI technology companies in the field of education.

More than 300 experts and scholars from universities, international organizations, as well as scientific and technological enterprises from home and abroad were invited to the conference. Notable attendees include Badarch Dendev, chairman of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology Governing Board, Byun Hoseung, president of the Korean Association for Educational Information and Media (KAEIM), Ding Xin, vice president and secretary general of the China Association of Educational Technology, as well as Bradd Feng, director of the Global Training and Certification Department of Huawei Enterprise BG.

A number of keynote speeches, parallel forums, and scholar seminars will take place during the conference. Scientific and technological exhibitions will also be held by enterprises participating in the conference.

In addition, an Asian-African forum has been specially arranged to probe into how AI can be used to increase lifelong learning opportunities in developing countries.

Jointly organized by the Southern University of Science and Technology and the UNESCO International Center for Higher Education Innovation, the conference will last until July 25.

ICoME was initiated by KAEIM and the JAEMS (Japan Association for Educational Media Studies) in Japan in 2002. To date, it has been held three times in China. The other two times took place in Beijing in 2012 and in Shanghai in 2015.

Cooperation with China benefits UK strategically

The new British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, visited China on Monday. As the UK wonders whether a soft Brexit is possible and amid discussion of the fading UK-US “special relationship,” Hunt’s visit shows how much attention London pays to China-UK relations.

Although the “golden era” between China and the UK under former prime minister David Cameron is still mentioned, their relationship is not like before.

London’s attitude toward Beijing is typical in Europe. The UK takes China seriously, which is subject to its politics and psychology nonetheless. It admits China’s power and acknowledges the strategic benefits of cooperation with China, but it has misgivings about China’s ideology and is vigilant about the “China model.” It seems that China-UK relations are stable, but there may be new problems at any time.

Before Hunt’s visit, some British politicians called on Hunt to bring up Hong Kong during his discussions with Chinese leaders. There have also been reports that Britain is to send HMS Queen Elizabeth to the South China Sea as a “freedom of navigation” exercise. The UK has also announced a new policy document which sets tighter rules on foreign investment. People believe that the document mainly targets China. Hunt’s trip to China helps the two countries seek stable China-UK cooperation. It makes people rethink how issues that harm their relationship should be controlled, and whether control is realistic.

The common interests of China and the UK are far greater than their differences. China’s rise has strengthened the world’s multi-polarization, which will provide the UK with ample room for strategic maneuver and thus benefit the UK.

The UK is unable to rise again to the apex of power. Nor will other European countries. It would be a smart strategy for the UK to avoid being an appendage to a single superpower in a multi-polar world and build constructive relations with major forces. The UK should be rational enough to prevent its human rights dispute with China from undermining bilateral relations. Similarly, London needs to exercise restraint in commenting on Hong Kong-related issues in case it is manipulated by Hong Kong extremists to have diplomatic skirmishes with Beijing.

It is the UK that started almost all clashes with China, be it the nuclear power station, the South China Sea or the Hong Kong issue. China is more often a stabilizing power in Sino-UK relations.

We hope that China-UK relations can become strategically stable earlier than China’s ties with other European countries. If the UK still pins its hopes on a special relationship with the US, it will be unable to tap its potential as an older major power. Stronger ties with China will put the UK in a better position strategically.

China and the UK are supposed to be strategic partners committed to making the world a better place. They should join hands to safeguard the basic rules of international relations, promote world peace and prosperity in the 21st century. With huge potential, Sino-UK cooperation will drive the economic and societal development of the two countries and have bright prospects.

Time for China to cool Sino-Australian ties

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop on Monday at a sideline event during the G20 Meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

During the meeting, Bishop said that the recent spate of negative reports on China from Australian media are not accurate and do not represent the viewpoints of the Australian government. Wang said that the Australian side should remove its tinted glasses against China and make efforts to push forward bilateral cooperation rather than dampen prospects.

Sino-Australia relations have remained on a steady downward slope since last year due to distorted reporting on behalf of Australian media and remarks made by Australian politicians on China’s alleged interference and infiltration in Australian internal affairs.

Such remarks have not only created obstacles in the development of bilateral relations between the two countries, but also have had a negative impact on Chinese living in Australia. Australian officials recently made unfriendly remarks toward China, actively hurling accusations.

Since the beginning of this year, Australia has revealed a friendly attitude on a few occasions in apparent attempts to soothe China relations. However, it is necessary for China to leave Australia hanging for a while. China should not be too hasty about burying the hatchet simply every time Canberra puts on a smile.

Some Western media outlets noticed China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s serious facial expressions in photos with Australia’s Julie Bishop at the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires. Wang’s speech also matched his facial expressions perfectly as they revealed China’s attitude.

Geographically, Australia is a long way from China. The two nations are divided by Southeast Asia, and therefore do not share any geopolitical conflicts. China has remained Australia’s biggest trading partner and due to the vast amount of Aussie exports entering China, Australia has been able to retain a strong trade surplus.

In the past two years, Australia has experienced a few difficult moments with China and has created challenges on topics including the South China Sea and other ideological issues.

Disagreements between the two countries may contribute to their different values. This is a common situation among Western countries that have a relationship with China, and yet Australia has done a particularly prominent job in this area.

It is high time China demonstrated how it sticks to its principles in regard to its relations with Australia, so as to make Australia pay for its arrogant attitude toward China over the past two years.

China has plenty of legitimate reasons to cool bilateral relations with Australia. Since the Land Down Under is not a neighboring country and has limited strength and influence globally, a cooling period will only have a miniscule impact on China’s interests.

Such a similar initiative wouldn’t work with other countries because the potential outcomes could be too heavy for both sides. But with Australia, China has just enough confidence to withstand any cooling action.

China should slow the relationship down for a period. For example, it is unnecessary for the Australian Prime Minister to visit China this year. In fact, he can visit a few years later. China’s ministerial officials, other than those in economic and trade departments, could postpone interactions with Australia.

Non-government related exchanges between the two nations should be maintained. Chinese students and tourists in Australia should not be bothered.

China has promised to increase its imports from the US, according to the recently concluded Sino-US trade talks. It is reasonable to cut a few imports from Australia to implement the China-US trade agreement. It will benefit China anyway. By doing so, China will be able to keep its promise to the US, and while helping Australia to reconsider the ways in which they can balance relations with their Western allies and China’s interests.

The scope of import reductions could be limited. Last year, Australia exported $76.45 billion in goods to China. Lowering Aussie exports by $6.45 billion would send cold chills up and down the spine of Australia. Of course, it would be an even greater shock if the import reductions totaled $10 billion.

China has been very friendly toward Australia, but their arrogant attitudes in return over the past two years have become a virtual example of what it means to “bite the hand that feeds.”

Australia’s image among Chinese people has grown increasingly negative due to its warped accusations hurled at China. China does not need to spend time and effort seeking out revenge against Australia.

The cooling of bilateral relations between the two may last for a while, perhaps a few years or even longer. That would be a good lesson for Australia to learn, while also setting a precedent for other nations to follow in that there are no benefits for any country that chooses to take provocative measures against China.

Violent protestors damage Hong Kong, their own futures

Violent protests, with the extradition bill as the pretext, continue to escalate in Hong Kong, although Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said that “the bill is dead.” Some young people arbitrarily vented their violent feelings and hurt policemen, the rule of law in Hong Kong and their own futures.

What do those young people want? They attempted to achieve freedom of speech and rule of law by means of street politics – violence and challenging the bottom line of law. This is ridiculous.

Many countries have witnessed street political activities. The participants were mainly young people, but none of these actions have come to fruition. This is because they refer to violence to achieve their so-called legitimate goal, which is impossible.

Those young protestors in Hong Kong tried to have their appeal accepted by using violence. Their extreme actions have deeply damaged the Hong Kong they love. They must pay the price for their extremism. This is the unchallengeable bottom line of society with the rule of law. They must learn a lesson to take responsibility and get the punishment they deserve. Hong Kong must not concede anymore in terms of the rule of law: the basis for the city’s civilization.

Young Hongkongers are aspiring and active to contribute to Hong Kong’s development and in the meantime, facing pressure from the wealth gap and economic transition. Dissatisfied with the current situation but lacking rational thinking, they didn’t find or didn’t want to find an effective way out for their problems.

It is sad to see those young people overlook the strong advice of history but insist on following the wrong track. They would put Hong Kong’s and their developments at risk rather than admit to the proven right route for Hong Kong.

Those misled young people attribute their problems to the central government, but actually, both the development of Hong Kong and the future for young Hongkongers are closely linked to the mainland. Young Hongkongers should properly recognize the central government’s beneficial policies and understand them with a higher-level vision.

To address Hong Kong’s problems and create opportunity for Hongkongers, the central government launched a series of active measures including the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. These measures aim to consolidate and improve Hong Kong’s status as pivot for international finance, shipping, commerce and aviation, as well as to promote regional integration and personnel exchanges. This will guarantee Hongkongers a wider space and bigger platform.

If young Hongkongers can put aside their prejudice and take a real look at the mainland, they will find it totally different from the “abyss of suffering” described by some Western media outlets but rather a place full of opportunities for them.

For example, part of the Greater Bay Area, dynamic Shenzhen – the city surpassed Hong Kong in GDP in 2018 – can be an ideal stage for technical personnel from Hong Kong to fulfill their ambitions.

The future of Hong Kong is in the hands of young Hongkongers. As the economic advantages of Hong Kong are declining, young Hongkongers should more rationally think about how to make full use of the huge mainland market to pull Hong Kong out of its dilemma.