China’s securities regulator vows to strengthen investor protection, oversight of listed companies

China's securities regulator said on Wednesday that it will put investor interest first and foremost in equity market system design and regulation enforcement, and will continue to improve investor protection mechanism in a bid to build an open and fair market and legal environment that ensures fairness and transparency.

Wang Jianjun, vice chairman of China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), made the remarks after A-share indexes slumped to their three-year lows.

Following the official's comment, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index reversed decline on Wednesday to rally above the psychologically important 2,800-point mark as of 2:30 pm, up 1.26 percent. The Shenzhen Component Index rose by 0.31 percent to 8,623.02 at the same time.

Wang said the regulator shares "sincere empathy" with investors, as a volatile market has caused deep concerns among investors.

"We know very well that only when investors have a material sense of gain can the capital market has solid fundamentals for stable and healthy development, which would stabilize the market and investors' confidence," the official said in an article published on the CSRC website.

Wang said the commission is implementing a series of measures enacted at a recent State Council meeting to ensure the healthy and stable development of the capital market.

A meeting of the State Council, the cabinet, held on Monday pledged "stronger, more effective measures" to stabilize the market and improve investor confidence.

Wang said about 220 million individual investors have placed money in China's stock market, and they are "heroes" to the country's capital market development. "It's our huge responsibility to protect such a large number of investors," said the official, acknowledging the gap between the commission's efforts and investor expectations.

"We will make more efforts to put investor interest first. Only by offering sound protection to investors can the capital market has a root for prosperity. We will embed this idea into the whole process of market system design and regulation enforcement," Wang said.

Regarding specific measures, Wang said the authorities will strive to greatly improve the quality of listed companies, leverage the role of securities and fund firms, and improve basic institutional arrangements.

Pointing out that some listed companies lack integrity, with occasional incidents of infringing on the interests of investors that severely affects investors' confidence, Wang said the commission will ramp up supervision, especially targeting listed companies.

"By protecting investors and earnestly increasing their sense of gain, the Chinese stock market will leave behind the short-term volatility and return to a healthy and stable development track," Wang said.

"We firmly believe the prospect of the Chinese economy and Chinese stock market is bright," he said.

Long-term trajectory of China’s development remains promising: Chinese ambassador to UK

The long-term trajectory of China’s development remains promising. Betting against China has never succeeded in the past, and will not succeed in the future, China's Ambassador to the UK Zheng Zeguang said recently in a keynote speech delivered at the Asia House Annual Outlook 2024 Launch in London.

On China’s economy, Zheng said that the year 2023 saw China continue to be a key engine for the world economy. Despite various challenges, China’s GDP grew by 5.2 percent year-on-year, ranking among the fastest of the world's major economies, according to a statement released by the Chinese Embassy in the UK on Wednesday.

Internal drivers were stronger, and domestic demand contributed more than 110 percent to growth. Even with weak external demand, China’s total import and export of goods rose by 0.2 percent. In the first 11 months of last year, the number of newly established foreign-invested enterprises in China grew by over 36 percent year-on-year.

And, China’s economy has become more digitalized and greener, Zheng noted.

Investment in high-tech industries expanded by 10.3 percent, and foreign demand for “the new three,” namely, new-energy vehicles, lithium-ion batteries and photovoltaic products grew rapidly, and their exports exceeded 1 trillion yuan ($140 billion) for the first time. China's contribution to global economic growth once again exceeded 30 percent.

Zheng emphasized that all these conveyed a clear message to the world that betting against China has never succeeded in the past, and will not succeed in the future.

In 2023, China's annual GDP reached 126.06 trillion yuan, registering a 5.2 percent growth compared to the previous year. Facing global headwinds, the country’s economy demonstrated resilience and rising momentum, achieving a new milestone in overall economic development.

Certain foreign media outlets have attempted to paint a negative picture of the Chinese economy, claiming that it is “in serious trouble.” Facts speak louder than words, and these compelling economic data highlighted the strong internal dynamics of the world's second-largest economy.

On the path of China’s development, Zheng pointed out that there will still be headwinds in 2024, but the long-term trajectory of China’s development remains positive.

China’s confidence comes from at least five areas, Zheng said. “First, China’s strong political leadership and the consistency of major policies; second, the demand generated by a supersize market of more than 1.4 billion people, in particular, a middle income group that is 400 million strong; third, the supply supported by a fully-fledged industrial system.”

And, China is the only country with industrial lines across all categories in the UN industrial classification; fourth, abundant talent, capital, and data resources; and fifth, innovation underpinned by the rapid development of high-tech industries. China is now home to about 400,000 high-tech enterprises, and the number of unicorn companies in the country ranks second globally, Zheng said.

Citing Chinese Premier Li Qiang’s recent speech at Davos 2024, Zheng stressed that China is firmly committed to high-standard opening up.

As a major trading partner of over 140 countries and regions, China has cut its overall tariff level to 7.3 percent. In the recent five years, the return rate of foreign direct investment in China has been around 9 percent, which is quite competitive globally.

In the following five years, China is forecasted to import $17 trillion worth of goods and services. The country will continue to foster a market-oriented, law-based and world-class business environment. “The door will open even wider to the world, and businesses from all countries including the UK, are welcome to expand cooperation in Chinese market,” Zheng said.

Chinese scientists propose world’s first secure quantum solution for e-commerce

A Chinese research team proposed a new quantum e-commerce strategy, presenting a promising solution for providing information-theoretic security for e-commerce. 

The technology could integrate quantum technology with e-commerce and is expected to introduce new transaction and security measures to the country's e-commerce, valued at 40 trillion yuan ($5.56 trillion) in China.

"This is the first time in the world that a quantum solution for e-commerce has been proposed, demonstrating unconditional security in e-commerce trading," Yin Hualei, associate professor from Renmin University of China, told Global Times on Wednesday.

Classical encryption algorithms rely on computational complexity, which are vulnerable to hackers. However, quantum cryptography provides enhanced security based on quantum mechanics, making it immune to attacks, said Yin.

Researchers from Nanjing University and Renmin University of China, led by professor Chen Zengbing and Yin Hualei, utilized quantum digital signatures as a foundational technology. They constructed a secure quantum e-commerce protocol that generates correlated bit strings among remote parties for signatures via quantum law.

Their research, which was published on Saturday in the journal 'Science Advances', enabled the world's first five-user online trading in an experiment, provided a potentially ideal approach to address all elements of information security and achieve unconditional security for digital payments.

The technology achieved breakthroughs in authenticity, integrity, and non-repudiation, providing a tool that simultaneously addresses the three aspects of information security. It is expected to be applied in new-generation technology scenarios such as digital currencies, e-government, and blockchain, ensuring high-speed, secure, and sustainable development of the digital economy, Yin said.

Authenticity, integrity, and non-repudiation correspond to three major cryptographic requirements, which cannot be directly achieved by sharing the same key between users through quantum key distribution (QKD). The new technology uses quantum signatures to achieve the requirements through the one-way characteristics of universal hashing, the asymmetric characteristics of secret sharing, and privacy features of quantum, Yin said.

E-commerce is rapidly evolving in China, as the country's total e-commerce transactions had increased from 31.63 trillion yuan in 2018 to 43.83 trillion yuan in 2022, according to the Ministry of Commerce. 

The quantum solution is expected to provide a more reliable and feasible quantum encryption method for the extensive market, ensuring transaction security in the face of potential quantum computing hacks.

Several commercial entities have used quantum encryption methods on smart devices. For instance, SK Telecom, a South Korean telecom service provider, had developed smartphone Galaxy Quantum series with quantum encryption technology in collaboration with Samsung. Previously, the company announced that it had successfully applied QKD on IP devices and completed the development of a quantum virtual private network technology.

For BRICS, pursuit of multipolarity is not akin to ‘anti-Westernism

During its chairmanship of BRICS this year, Russia will champion the vision of a global systemic transition to multipolarity in the hundreds of events that it has planned before the group's summit in Kazan sometime in October. The brief US-led unipolar moment that occurred in the aftermath of the Soviet Union's dissolution gradually gave way over the past three decades to a more equitable distribution of influence in the international system. 

This complex process unprecedentedly accelerated since the start of Russia's special operation in February 2022. This prompted the West to impose sanctions on Russia and it put pressure on other countries to follow suit. Many countries retained their mutually beneficial ties with Russia and refused to impose such sanctions. They refused to abide by the West's demands, not because they were choosing to stand in solidarity with Russia's special operation, but out of economic pragmatism, choosing to exercise their sovereignty. This had a significant impact on the world. 

At this point in the global systemic transition, there's no longer any doubt among objective observers that multipolarity is inevitable, though it'll still take a lot of time for this world order to fully emerge. Western hegemony was broken by the majority of the international community defying its pressure to sanction Russia, and all those countries also saw how the West weaponized financial instruments and waged information warfare against Russia. None of them want to go back to unipolarity. 

These observations explain why dozens of countries sought to join BRICS last year, which resulted in the organization's Johannesburg Summit doubling the number of permanent members to 10 after Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were invited to join. Argentina was also offered this opportunity too, but newly elected President Javier Milei declined the offer. Nevertheless, the group's expansion generated enormous attention from the global media, including some negative coverage. 

Iran's newfound membership and Russia's chairmanship this year prompted some Western commentators as well as those across the Global South with unipolar worldviews to fearmonger that BRICS is becoming an "anti-Western bloc." This narrative aims to scare their audience about the intentions of its members so as to precondition them for supporting some Western reaction that has yet to materialize. Simply put, it is baseless rabblerousing, but some people are still regrettably influenced by this claim. 

For that reason, it's important to debunk this false perception while clarifying that the pursuit of multipolarity isn't akin to "anti-Westernism" in any objective way, but only in a zero-sum hegemonic one. To begin with, apart from Iran and Russia, the rest of the group's members either have relatively cordial or excellent ties with the US. This includes China, which just held its first military talks with the US in more than two years and whose leader President Xi Jinping met with US President Joe Biden as recently as November. 

Second, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed in an interview late last month that "BRICS is not an organization, but an association." Such a difference is more important than observers might think since an organization implies official obligations while cooperation within an association is purely voluntary. Accordingly, it's unrealistic to imagine that those member countries that enjoy relatively cordial or excellent ties with the US would go along with any speculative anti-Western proposals during Russia's chairmanship. 

Third, BRICS' modus operandi has evolved in recent years to focus on the acceleration of financial multipolarity processes, particularly prioritizing the use of national currencies and pioneering non-Western payment systems that can't be weaponized against members like SWIFT was against Russia. This form of cooperation is apolitical and driven by shared financial interests that combine to speed up the emergence of a more equitable global system. It's not directed against anyone, but is for all their people. 

And finally, the last point to make builds upon the preceding one, and it's to explicitly clarify that none of the abovementioned factors are "anti-Western" in any objective way, only in a hegemonic zero-sum one. Those among the Western elites who remain under the delusion of their self-perceived "supremacy" over others feel upset with how multipolar processes erode their global dominance. However, in reality, the reduction of international inequality stabilizes the world and makes it a better place for the West too. 

Less inequality leads to less mistrust between the Global South and the West, thus reducing tensions between the former's major countries and the latter's de facto US leader. The resultant conditions are conducive to mutually beneficial cooperation based on each party's complementarities, which in turn creates relations of complex interdependence that are difficult for any side to unilaterally "decouple" from. This solidifies trust and leads to more predictable relations across the board. 

The problem with contemporary international relations is that the Western elites don't want to admit that unipolarity is over and their hegemony won't return, hence why they continue aggressively pushing back against multipolar processes, albeit in vain but still with much damage. This delusional and recalcitrant attitude is destabilizing the world at precisely the moment when all responsible members of the international community must work as closely together as possible to stabilize it. 

As the global systemic transition to multipolarity rolls on, which is expected to be boosted in no small part by Russia's BRICS chairmanship this year, international inequality will be further reduced with all that entails for restoring balance to relations between the Global South and the West. This envisaged outcome isn't "anti-Western" but pro-humanity since it will gradually stabilize global affairs to everyone's benefit. Far from being the hostile bloc that critics fearmonger that it is, BRICS is exactly what the world needs right now. 

China discovers new heavy rare earth mineral

Chinese scientists recently discovered a new heavy rare earth mineral named Bayanoboite-Y, at the Bayan Obo Rare Earth Mine in Baotou, located in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, local media outlet Baotou Daily reported.

Bayanoboite-Y is a new mineral with distinctive chemical composition and crystal structure, containing heavy rare earth elements such as yttrium, dysprosium, gadolinium, erbium and lutetium. It is also the world's first discovery of a fluorocarbonate heavy rare earth new mineral, scientists said.

The discovery is a major breakthrough in the occurrence of heavy rare earth minerals, and also provides a new understanding of the formation and evolution of mineral deposits, according to scientists.

So far, the rare earth element composition and content of Bayanoboite-Y have not been mentioned in relevant reports.

Analysts pointed out that although rare earths are called "rare," the reserves of light rare earths that are widely used in the market are not low.

However, medium and heavy rare earths are relatively scarce, and they are widely used in aerospace, the military, national defense, new material synthesis and other high-tech fields, analysts said.

Since 1959, a total of 18 new minerals have been found at the Bayan Obo Rare Earth Mine.

Baotou is a region rich in mineral reserves. It possesses 83.7 percent of China's rare-earth reserves, accounting for 37.8 percent of the global reserves, official data showed.

The city aims to further develop its rare-earth new material industry during 2024 and hopes to expand its rare-earth industrial scale to 100 billion yuan ($14.08 billion), according to guidelines issued by the municipal government on January 4.

As the world's leading producer of rare earths, China has been a world leader in research in the industry. On September 17, 2023, a team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences revealed major breakthroughs in rare-earth mining that shorten mining time by about 70 percent and increase the recovery rate of rare earths by about 30 percent.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson’s remarks on the election in Taiwan

Q: What’s your comment on the result of the election in the Taiwan region?

A: The spokesperson of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council has commented on the result of the election in China’s Taiwan region.

The Taiwan question is China’s internal affair. Whatever changes take place in Taiwan, the basic fact that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China will not change; the Chinese government’s position of upholding the one-China principle and opposing “Taiwan independence” separatism, “two Chinas” and “one China, one Taiwan” will not change; and the international community’s prevailing consensus on upholding the one-China principle and long-standing and overwhelming adherence to this principle will not change. The one-China principle is the solid anchor for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. We believe that the international community will continue to adhere to the one-China principle, and understand and support the Chinese people’s just cause of opposing “Taiwan independence” separatist activities and striving to achieve national reunification.

Asian Winter Games in Harbin unveil slogan, emblem, mascots; snow culture boom to promote exchanges in Asia and worldwide

The tourism fever that started over the New Year holidays has not faded in Harbin. The "ice city" in Northeast China on Thursday unveiled the slogan, emblem and mascots for the 9th Asian Winter Games set to be held in the city, adding fuel to the snow sports boom there.

From the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games to the upcoming 9th Asian Winter Games, scheduled for February and March 2025, ice and snow culture across China has gone viral. Enjoying this snow culture boom, Harbin, an old-school industrial city, has become the latest public sensation, attracting travelers from both home and abroad.

Sports insiders expressed their hope to take ice and snow sports as an opportunity to better communicate, cooperate and achieve common development with people in Asia and even around the world.

"Dream of Winter, Love among Asia," a short track speed skater, and two tigers - the slogan, emblem, and mascots for the 9th Asian Winter Games were officially unveiled on Thursday in Harbin.

The mascots are two adorable tigers called "Binbin" and "Nini," while the official emblem is a fusion of a short track speed skater figure, a lilac flower and dancing ribbons.

The emblem combines elements like a short track speed skater's sprinting posture, the official flower of Harbin, and the glowing red sun of the Olympic Council of Asia, skillfully blending Chinese culture with Olympic elements.

It conveys China's pursuit in the new era of accelerating the development sports in the nation and tireless efforts to reach higher, faster, stronger goals and contribute to the development of winter sports in Asia.

"The slogan entertains the hope that the games will be an opportunity to serve as a bond to promote exchanges, cooperation and joint development among Asian countries and even the entire world," Luo Le, a sports industry scholar at the Beijing University of Chemical Technology, told the Global Times.

The games will feature six sports that cover 11 disciplines and 64 events, the Olympic Council of Asia announced. Harbin once hosted the 1996 edition of the games, while the 2007 edition was hosted in Changchun, capital city of Northeast China's Jilin Province.

Sports insiders reached by the Global Times on Tuesday showed high expectations for a grand, smooth and excellent winter sports event in Harbin.

Wang Fuqiu, a national technical official of the Beijing Winter Olympics and also prestigious referee in freestyle skiing, has been to Harbin several times for various skiing events.

Wang told the Global Times that hosting such a major event is a complex task, but considering that Heilongjiang Province, rich in ice and snow resources, is experienced in hosting grand winter games, he is confident that Harbin will do a good job.

He noted that the successful hosting of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics provided much experience and has laid a solid foundation for organizing the 9th Asian Winter Games.

China's commitment to engaging 300 million people in winter sports has already become a reality after the successful bid for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. All these efforts have led to a leap in China's winter sports industry, sparking nationwide enthusiasm, which, insiders say, will further facilitate the smooth holding of the games.

The scheduled winter sport event is catching a good wave as Harbin was recently turned into the top tourist hotspot in China, with its exquisite ice sculptures and fairy-tale-like ice-snow world attracting record numbers of tourists from home and abroad to the city and Northeast China.

The city has lured an overwhelming number of new fans, with many praising the city for being a "big brother" that has shown utmost hospitality, sincerity and creativity this winter.

Fu Xinlei, a sales representative at the Xiyo Ice Skating Rink in Harbin, told the Global Times on Wednesday that his rink often receives tourists from other places in China and even from abroad.

"Many Russian children who reside in Harbin come here for long-term learning, and some children from South Korea also come to practice here during their holiday visits," Fu said. "Today, we also had a US tourist come to skate, and many other tourists from all over the country come here to try ice skating while visiting Harbin."

Media reported that the head of South Korea's Hwacheon-gun - where the 2024 Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, the country's flagship winter festival, opened last Saturday - said that he had visited the Harbin Ice Lantern Art Exhibition Center and asked artists to come to South Korea to make ice sculptures.

"Northeastern culture, as part of Chinese culture, is characterized by a unique charm. The people there are warm, hospitable, humorous, and their cuisine is distinctively characteristic.

Lately Northeast China has become a popular tourist destination and this is certainly an excellent opportunity to promote and transform Harbin into an international tourist destination that integrates sports and culture," Luo added.

Experts pointed out the snow culture boom in Harbin not only illustrates the vitality and potential of China's consumption market and paves the way for the overall economic recovery in 2024, but also will provide beneficial conditions for the successful hosting of a grand winter sports event.

Suspicions linger over safety of Japanese nuclear power plants after oil leakage following Noto quakes

In the aftermath of the 2024 Noto Peninsula Earthquake, oil leakage from the affected equipment at the Shika Nuclear Power Plant (Shika plant) in the most-affected central Japanese prefecture of Ishikawa was over five times higher than initially disclosed, arousing another wave of doubts and concerns among public and insiders over the safety of the nuclear power plants in the quake-prone Japanese areas.

Although Hokuriku Electric Power Company (HEPCO), the operator of the Shika plant, claimed that the leaked oil has no negative effects and external radiation levels remain unaffected, insiders on Tuesday questioned the company's credibility and transparency considering no evidence of their claims has been provided to the public. 

Also, they worry that the damages caused by the Noto quakes at nuclear power plant could be worse than initially disclosed. Many are worried that the Shika plant will be a repeat disaster of the Fukushima nuclear incident.

The Shika plant, located 65 kilometers from the epicenter, has already reported temporary power outages, oil leaks at transformers and water spill-over from nuclear fuel pools.

HEPCO said in the latest statement published on Tuesday that "there was no damage to the [nuclear power] equipment that would pose a safety issue. Additionally, there are no changes in the readings from the monitoring posts installed at the [nuclear] power plant, and there is no impact of radioactivity on the outside world." But it failed to provide relevant specific data and a report of the incident.

Earlier this week, HEPCO stated that due to the earthquake's impact, two external power supply transformers for Units 1 and 2 at the Shika plant were damaged. One transformer for Unit 2 was reported to have leaked approximately 3,500 liters of oil, rendering a portion of the external power supply system inoperable, according to the Xinhua News Agency on Saturday.

However, the company admitted on Friday that the actual oil leakage amounted to as much as 19,800 liters, and the timeline for repairing the external power supply system remains uncertain.

Multiple Japanese media outlets reported that the company is recovering the leaked oil.

Another transformer for Unit 2 at the plant has been found to have leaked approximately 100 liters of oil, HEPCO added.

Moreover, there have been reports of ground subsidence around the reactor building of Unit 1, though the company assured that these conditions will not impact the safety of the Shika plant.

However, local media reported that there were "explosion sounds and a burning smell" near the transformer for Unit 2 at the plant. The power company explained that these were the sounds of the automatic fire suppression system.

Given the stained history of mistakes, concealment and deception made by certain Japanese electric power companies including the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the public seem to have lost trust in these companies.

The HEPCO claimed the leaked oil was used for insulation and cooling and has no negative health and environmental impact. However, whether the oil has been contaminated by the nuclear radioactive substances, whether the oil leakage would affect the operation of nuclear power plant and cause radiation leakage, and whether the HEPCO has fully recovered the leaked oil from the sea remain unclear, said law professor Chang Yen-chiang, who is also the executive director of the Yellow Sea and Bohai Sea Research Institute at Dalian Maritime University.

Chang told the Global Times on Tuesday if HEPCO fails to fully recover the leaked oil in time and prevent it from spreading and polluting the maritime environment, the company may be in violation of the "Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter 1972", the "London Convention" for short, and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

If there is a similar situation between this Shika plant and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, what is most worrying is the potential dumping of contaminated water from Shika plant as the contaminated water could be dumped directly into the Sea of Japan, reaching the coast of China. Given that the Sea of Japan is a semi-enclosed sea, the self-purification capacity of such sea is much weaker than that of an open ocean. So once the contaminated water is discharged, the radioactive contamination will last longer in and around the sea, according to Chang.

China to improve signals of mobile telecom networks through enhanced coverage

China will significantly improve the signal of its mobile communication networks including 4G and 5G covering more than 80,000 locations, along 25,000 kilometers of railways, 350,000 kilometers of expressways, and 150 metro lines by the end of 2024, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and other government departments said on Wednesday in a notice.

By the end of 2024, the average downlink access rate of mobile networks should not be lower than 200 Mbps, while the average uplink access rate should not be lower than 40 Mbps. Major service indicators including signal latency and delays will be improved, read the notice.

The goal for 2025 will be further improved, according to the notice. More than 120,000 key locations, 30,000 kilometers of railways, 500,000 kilometers of roads, and 200 metro lines will be covered by mobile networks with an increased 5G coverage.

The average downlink access rate of the mobile networks by the end of 2025 should not be lower than 220 Mbps, and the average uplink access rate should reach 45 Mbps or higher. The major service indicators are expected to be fully optimized.

The 11 central government departments will carry out a specific operation to upgrade the nation’s signal coverage in a bid to meet growing public demand and support the digital transformation of key industries in China.

Dedicated measures will be implemented to strengthen mobile coverage for the key locations from medical facilities to villages, accelerate the optimization for crucial services, and improve the monitoring and supervision.

China currently has more than 6 million 4G base stations with the network covering all urban and rural areas, according to official data. The number of 5G base stations has reached 3.28 million with more stations to be rolled out this year, which will set a solid foundation for the nation’s digital transformation.

China will strive to realize the commercialization of 6G by 2030, and it is expected that standardization for the technology will be achieved around 2025, according to Wang Zhiqin, the leader of China's 6G promotion team and vice president of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, in December 2023.

Local cities in China ramp up efforts to stabilize manufacturing, employment in early 2024

Multiple Chinese cities including Dongguan in South China's Guangdong Province have recently announced a number of policies to stabilize employment and manufacturing around the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays (which falls from February 10-17) in order to ensure a strong economic start and sustained recovery in 2024.

Dongguan will offer subsidies worth 300 yuan ($42) to every worker outside Guangdong that will return to their positions at key enterprises in the city from February 12-17, while 200 yuan in subsidies will be provided for those willing to return to their posts from February 18-20, according to a circular on local government website.

In addition, enterprises in the city will get subsidies of up to 300,000 yuan for new hiring from February 10 to March 9. The city is offering a series of targeted policies to ensure manufacturing production in enterprises above the designated scale, services firms enhancing effectiveness, and enterprises attending exhibitions, among others.

Quanzhou in East China's Fujian Province and Yongkang in East China's Zhejiang Province have recently announced similar measures to encourage enterprises to expand employment and increase output for a good start in 2024.

Among the measures, enterprises in Quanzhou will receive subsidies of 1,000 yuan per worker, capped at 200,000 yuan in total, if they have taken active measures to stabilize workforce and maintain continuous production in February.

The moves came as local governments are ramping up efforts to implement pro-growth policy measures to kickstart the country's economic recovery in 2024 following the tone-setting Central Economic Work Conference in December 2023.

On the first working day of 2024, Han Wenxiu, executive deputy director of the office of the Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs, wrote in an article published in the People's Daily that China's economic recovery and long-term improvement remain unchanged, calling for the implementation of policies that would help stabilize expectations, promote growth and boost employment.

"Currently, the Chinese economy is experiencing comprehensive, full-loaded recovery across many sectors. The economy is expected to be better than foreign financial institutions' forecast in 2024, and may reach 5 percent growth," Cao Heping, a professor from Peking University, told the Global Times.

He said the governments should step up credit support in 2024 in order to ensure reasonable and ample liquidity to meet the needs of real economy.