New US tariffs on China seriously hurt global environmental protection: Global Times editorial

The recent increase in tariffs imposed by the US on imports from China, particularly on electric vehicles (EVs), lithium batteries, and semiconductors, has sparked criticism globally. Not only did the International Monetary Fund (IMF) spokesperson criticize the move, saying it "can distort trade and investment, and fragment supply chains," several US media, including The Washington Post, also slammed that the new tariffs raise costs for companies using green energy devices and make electric vehicles less affordable for US consumers. 

"Forcing consumers, via tariffs, to subsidize domestic clean energy companies that are far from the cutting edge of technology is an economic and environmental loser," The Washington Post article said. Colorado Governor Jared Polis also stated that the new tariffs are "a major setback for clean energy."

The concerns are far-sighted and realistic. The new tariffs represent another escalation of the US' policy to contain China in recent years, forcing its companies to restructure supply and industrial chains, and disrupting the normal global trade order. This restructuring will have a profound negative impact on the global industrial system centered around emission reduction goals, leading to serious environmental issues worldwide. 

It should be pointed out that the timing of the new US tariffs coincides with a critical moment in the global transition from traditional to new energy and the construction of a global green economy. On April 17, Dubai, a country located in a desert region, experienced a sudden downpour, with one day's rainfall equivalent to half the average annual rainfall. 

This most severe rainstorm in 75 years caused Dubai International Airport to close for three days. Extreme heat waves, severe cold, torrential rains, hurricanes, droughts and floods... the increasingly frequent extreme weather events highlight the urgency of global efforts to address climate change to a degree felt by everyone.

At the beginning of this year, the World Meteorological Organization released a report officially confirming 2023 as the warmest year on record. The report indicates that new record-high levels were set in 2023 for all three of the main greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide levels are 50 percent higher than in the pre-industrial era.

According to a report released by the United Nations Environment Programme at the end of last year, predicted 2030 greenhouse gas emissions still must fall by 28 percent for the Paris Agreement 2 C pathway and 42 percent for the 1.5 C pathway.

Against this backdrop, it has become a widespread consensus in the international community to achieve effective emission reduction and build a new form of sustainable economic development for humanity by significantly adjusting the energy structure, especially by promoting the widespread use of new energy products to achieve low-carbon emissions. It is precisely for this reason that China's "new three" products have been widely welcomed in markets around the world. 

Data shows that in 2023, China contributed more than half of the global renewable energy installed capacity of 510 million kilowatts. In 2022, China's renewable energy generation contributed to a reduction of approximately 2.26 billion tons in domestic CO2 emissions, while exports of wind power and solar products aided other nations in decreasing CO2 emissions by an additional 573 million tons. 

The two figures add up to 2.83 billion tonnes of emissions reduction, or about 41 percent of the global total of carbon emissions reduction due to renewable energy. 

At the World Energy Congress held in April, Amin Nasser, CEO of Saudi Aramco, one of the world's largest oil companies, said that "China has made these green products so affordable, and they will help the West achieve its target of cutting carbon emissions to a net zero level by 2050." Imagine what the global energy transition would look like without China's green production capacity, and how it would impact humanity's ability to address climate change.

Especially for developing countries, it is China's progress in the field of new energy that allows them to purchase more cost-effective EVs, lithium batteries, and photovoltaic products. The report from the International Renewable Energy Agency pointed out that in the past 10 years, the average cost of wind and photovoltaic power generation projects globally has cumulatively decreased by over 60 percent and 80 percent, respectively, with a large part of it attributed to Chinese innovation, manufacturing, and engineering. In this sense, the development and progress of China's new energy industry are not only accelerators of the global energy transition, but also the vanguard of humanity's response to climate change. This represents not only high-quality and advanced production capacity, but also widespread development justice.

There is only one Earth, and all countries share the same planet. Responding to global climate change and promoting energy transition in various countries is a task filled with both difficulties and hope. It requires a true spirit of "working together for the world" from all countries, as well as the joint maintenance of an open and fair international economic system. Nowadays, some people in the US, out of short-sighted and narrow political motives and fragile anxiety, are waving a big stick in the field of tariffs, undoubtedly weakening the cohesion of countries and their ability to respond to climate change, damaging the positive prospects of global green transformation. 

This will also be a "protectionist disaster" for humanity. It is hoped that they will wake up soon!

Potential US curbs on AI model exports 'hegemonic' action, experts say

Chinese experts said on Thursday that potential export restrictions by the US on artificial intelligence (AI) models mainly target China, and the reported move is essentially a case of self-isolation and a hegemonic action, which will hinder the swift evolution of the global AI industry and dampen previous strides in globalization.

The so-called security concerns on the use of advanced AI models are completely political rhetoric meant to stoke fears over China's development, amid the intensifying US crackdown on Chinese products, observers said.

Reuters has reported that the US government is considering a new regulatory push to restrict exports of proprietary or closed-source AI models, whose software, and the data they train on, are kept under wraps.

The action was due to concerns that "US adversaries could use the models… to wage aggressive cyber-attacks or even create potent biological weapons."

The move adds to restrictions Washington has put in place to block exports of sophisticated AI technologies to China.

As China's AI sector booms, the US government has been acutely aware of the competitive pressure exerted by its biggest rival. With AI models emerging as a new focal point of competition, the US has continuously used the "national security threat" rhetoric to stoke fears over Chinese products, in a bid to hinder China's industrial upgrading, Ma Jihua, a veteran telecom industry observer, told the Global Times on Thursday.

The US announced in April it was adding four Chinese firms to an export blacklist for allegedly aiding Chinese entities in acquiring AI chips in violation of US regulations, according to media reports. Analysts noted that the action was part of the intensifying US crackdown on China's high-tech sector in recent years.

China's Foreign Ministry said in April that "we strongly oppose the illegal US unilateral sanctions" and vowed to do "what is necessary to firmly safeguard the lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies while urging the US to stop politicizing trade and tech issues and turning them into weapons."

Regardless of the measures the US may ultimately enact, the impact on China's AI sector is expected to be minimal, analysts said. Instead, the likely move would drive Chinese users toward home-grown large language models (LLMs), which are gaining robust momentum, Pan Helin, a member of the Expert Committee for Information and Communication Economy under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, told the Global Times on Thursday.

China's LLM sector is highly competitive, with a wide array of options available for its huge market. Given the disparities between Chinese and English contexts, homegrown AI products are better suited to Chinese consumers than their US counterparts, Pan said, highlighting the vast potential of the country's high-tech sector.

The Chinese Embassy in the US responded to inquiries by denouncing the reported action as a "typical act of economic coercion and unilateral bullying, which China firmly opposes," adding that it would take "necessary measures" to protect its interests, Reuters reported.

China is stepping up efforts to boost AI development and has witnessed fruitful outcomes. As of April, 117 LLMs had been registered in China for generative AI services, according to the Cyberspace Administration of China, reflecting the fierce competition in this burgeoning sector.

This year's Government Work Report noted AI's crucial role in accelerating new quality productive forces, highlighting the country's continuous push for the high-quality development of the digital economy by stepping up R&D and application of big data and AI, and planning to launch an AI Plus Initiative.

Chinese path to modernization: Wuzhen's transformation from tourist attraction to livable town embodies essence of common prosperity

From many perspectives, Wuzhen, in East China's Zhejiang Province, a town with thousands of years of history, is not a name that automatically comes to mind when poverty and backwardness are mentioned. Even without considering its rich cultural history and connections to many famous figures, in the last few decades, it has become a well-planned tourist attraction known to most Chinese people.

As a typical ancient water town in the Jiangnan region, Wuzhen has a history spanning over 7,000 years and has been an established center for over 1,300 years. In the 1990s, the local government started to renovate the ancient town. The 21st century marked Wuzhen's transformation into one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region.

However, beyond the bustling tourist area, Wuzhen was rarely associated with "modernization" in any comprehensive way for a period of time. Outside the scope of the tourism industry, many people still lived in old villages in their old lifestyles.

This situation, however, began to change in June 2003 with the implementation of Zhejiang's Green Rural Revival Program, which plans to renovate about 10,000 incorporated villages and transform about 1,000 central villages among them into examples of moderate prosperity in all respects.

Xi Jinping, then secretary of the CPC Zhejiang Provincial Committee, promoted and deployed this modernization project to address the problem of imbalanced urban-rural development, creating a new development path for beautiful villages.

From duck farming to bamboo weaving

Chenzhuang village, like many other ordinary Chinese villages, had a long-term reliance on the animal husbandry and breeding as its main industry. "Chenzhuang used to be a specialized duck farming village, and every household would raise ducks on a fairly large scale," said Shen Siyuan, a member of the Chenzhuang village committee, to visiting Global Times reporters. "But the odor and waste generated by duck farming had a significant impact on the village's environment."

Transitioning from the backward poultry breeding ground to a traditional bamboo weaving craft was a long-term consideration by the village committee.

After closing down the environmentally damaging duck farms, many villagers joined the handicraft workshops of several bamboo weaving families in the village. In the workshops, the Global Times saw many villagers chatting and skillfully weaving bamboo items. Technical discussions or sharing sessions about bamboo weaving are routinely organized or spontaneously held among the villagers. When showing their bamboo weaving works to the Global Times, many of the former farmers turned bamboo artisans had proud smiles on their faces.

The village's leader in bamboo weaving, who is an inheritor of the craft, Qian Jihuai quit his job working for a company and followed his father, Qian Xinming, to engage in bamboo weaving full time in 2007, in the era of the decline of bamboo weaving in Wuzhen.
He came up with the idea of linking bamboo weaving with Wuzhen's tourism industry, and applied for a store at a tourist attraction and then tried to weave some Chinese characters out of bamboo as tourist souvenirs. It turned out that tourists loved these novel souvenirs.

Qian and his father therefore saw this as a new path to promote bamboo weaving and began developing related products. They traveled to other towns in China with a tradition of bamboo weaving and studied and researched extensively on the development of bamboo weaving in other countries.

"We gradually discovered that there was a lot of room for the expansion of bamboo weaving as an art," Qian said. He set up his own bamboo weaving studio with his father and brother, brought systematic bamboo weaving classes to schools, and introduced bamboo weaving skills to more people through online livestreams. In his studio, the Zhuyun Workshop, 15,000 visitors study bamboo weaving and take part in learning experiences every year. The workshop features many works of his fellow villagers, many of whom work there for a living.

According to Qian, the sense of happiness generated by social recognition is a new thing for many villagers who have been engaged in the poultry breeding industry for generations, but it has become an important part of achieving common prosperity in modern rural areas.

Such workshops are parts of an innovative project in Zhejiang that helps low-income groups increase their income. Currently, more than 7,000 such workshops have been established in the province, employing more than 340,000 people, with an average monthly income increase of about 2,600 yuan ($368) per person.

After the leveling of the land and the greening transformation, Chenzhuang has also built a leisure park in the village and a free library for villagers to read and check out books in the center of the village. When villagers recall their previous lives of duck farming to the Global Times, they find it hard to believe the changes.

From small towns into high-tech parks

Thanks to the Green Rural Revival Program, the image of the countryside has been comprehensively lifted in Zhejiang. A total of 2,170 featured villages and over 3 million beautiful rural courtyards have been built, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

In 2011, the program entered the stage of creating high-quality and beautiful villages. The integration of "lucid waters and lush mountains" into the new lives of the people of Zhejiang, as well as the significant changes in the environment, and the government's tremendous support for external talents, have attracted many investors and high-tech entrepreneurs.

In a high-tech park in Wuzhen, Global Times reporters met Jiang Jianguo, who used to work in display technology research in Silicon Valley, and has chosen to start a business in Wuzhen in 2019.

"When we planned to build a factory, we had high requirements and needed a very high-end purification workshop, and the local government helped us solve these problems with great seriousness," Jiang said. "This made us determined to establish our company in Wuzhen."

The high-end manufacturing industry in the field of electronic flexible screens created by Jiang has created new job opportunities and demonstrated the vitality of cutting-edge innovation and technology in this small town of Wuzhen, inducing the return of many young people who had migrated for work.

"In the past, if you wanted to find a good job, you had to go to first- or second-tier cities," said Shen Guyu, a young company employee, to the Global Times. "Now, you can work in high-tech enterprises in your hometown, and commuting is also very convenient."
Some employees also expressed their expectations for more high-tech enterprises in small towns. "After having a second child, my partner and I hope to leave the big city and return to our hometown for the sake of our children," said another employee, Wang Hua. The landing of these high-tech enterprises in Wuzhen makes it possible for them to engage in cutting-edge industries in their hometowns.

By the end of 2022, Zhejiang had registered 9.43 million operating entities, to which the private economy contributed 67 percent of the province's GDP, 71.7 percent of tax revenue, and 87.5 percent of employment. The booming private sector has provided unprecedented opportunities for young people in villages and towns to increase their income, find employment, and to produce new ideas.

In 2021, Zhejiang's Green Rural Revival Program entered the "creating future and achieving common prosperity" stage. The boundaries between urban and rural areas have gradually disappeared, and the foundation for sustainable development has become more solid.

In Shufeng village, Wuzhen, one can feel the gradual birth of a future village.

When Global Times reporters arrived at Shufeng village, villager Yu Liqin was preparing to build a new house, and village official Jiang Chao had agreed to measure the homestead with her in a very unconventional way.

Jiang demonstrated the various conditions of his homestead through the intelligent management system to Yu. With the help of aerial footage and the demonstration system, they quickly determined the required data. "In the past, it might have taken us half a day to measure on-site, but now, with this system, we can complete it in just a minute," Jiang said.

In 2022, Shufeng village was selected as one of the first provincial-level pilot "future villages" in Zhejiang. They began using digital technology to create a sustainable rural area, and the fully automated intelligent system started assisting villagers in their daily lives and work. Subsequently, a high-tech seedling base was established in Shufeng village. Villagers could either lease their land to the base or work as employees there.

Inside the 30,000-square-meter intelligent greenhouse in the village, the Global Times encountered Li Jingquan, a villager come employee who was testing a 5G inspection robot. This intelligent greenhouse integrates various new technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, and big data. On a large display screen, the growth status of all plants and intelligent suggestions are shown. Additionally, an intelligent seedling planter is available to quickly and accurately transplant seedlings.

"With the help of this technology, the seedlings we cultivate are stronger and have a higher survival rate than before, allowing villagers who are engaged in planting to continuously increase their income and production," Li said.

By 2025, Zhejiang plans to build over a thousand "future villages" and narrow the gap between the highest and lowest per capita disposable income within the province to within 1.55, truly reducing the gap between rural and urban areas.

In Wuzhen, the villages and high-tech enterprises the Global Times reporters see are a reflection of the transformation of Zhejiang's villages under the guidance of the Green Rural Revival Program over the last 20 years.

During this period, the urban and rural areas of Wuzhen have developed in tandem, and each village has seized upon its own characteristics and embarked on its own path.

Twenty years later, when people think of Wuzhen again, they will think not only of the tourist attraction, but also of the annual World Internet Conference, theater festival, unique rural life, and attractive investment and employment prospects, which provide a vivid model for the modernization and development of more small towns.

GT Voice: German cooperation with SE Asia won’t replace China’s role

Germany has shown a growing interest in strengthening economic ties with Southeast Asia. It is crucial that this cooperation is based on mutual benefits and win-win outcomes, rather than being driven by political agendas that could lead to a split of supply and industrial chains connected to China.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met with leaders of Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand last week, a development that some German media outlets claimed represents the German government's aim to diversify trade relations in Asia and become less dependent on China.

For instance, the Chinese website of German publication Deutsche Welle published an article on Friday headlined "Scholz's speed dates: Looking for Southeast Asian partners to replace China?"

While topics like Southeast Asia replacing China may be attention-grabbing, given some Western politicians' pursuit of so-called de-risking, it is irresponsible to play up such a topic when it lacks much practical basis.

Anyone who is familiar with China-Germany trade data will understand how far-fetched the topic is. Despite various geopolitical headwinds in recent years, China remains Germany's most important trading partner, and bilateral trade far exceeds Germany's trade with the three Southeast Asian countries. 

In 2023, Germany's trade in goods with the three Southeast Asian countries totaled a mere 38 billion euros ($41.4 billion), while bilateral trade between China and Germany reached 299 billion euros in 2022 and 253 billion in 2023.

The Asian industrial chain is a complete one, with all countries in the region depending on each other and promoting each other's development. China and Southeast Asia have long shared a mutually beneficial relationship, and both sides are willing to push economic and trade cooperation to a higher level. With the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, industrial chains in China and ASEAN are expected to be further integrated.

It is true that in recent years, with rising labor costs in China, some labor-intensive manufacturing industries have shifted to some Southeast Asian countries, but many of those shifts are the results of China's industrial chains being extended due to various factors. 

The rise of Chinese exports of intermediate products and machinery equipment to ASEAN demonstrates the extension of industrial chains. The shift is in line with the general direction of accelerating industrial upgrading and transformation in China, and it also contributes to the prosperous development of Southeast Asia. It helps Chinese companies by reducing the pressure of rising domestic labor costs and growing trade protectionism against China. 

The China-Association of Southeast Asian Nations Free Trade Area (CAFTA) took effect many years ago and contributed greatly to the liberalization and facilitation of trade among the 11 countries that signed it. 

China still aims to upgrade the liberalization of trade and investment with ASEAN and is trying to work with ASEAN to conclude negotiations for version 3.0 of the CAFTA as soon as possible, according to the Xinhua News Agency. 

Apparently, ASEAN is in the process of trade integration and mutual development with various countries and regions. ASEAN's deepening trade cooperation with any country will only bring more cooperation potential for China, instead of substituting for it. 

For instance, Germany - which has not signed a free trade agreement with China - could enjoy market dividends in China through some Southeast Asian countries, while China could make use of its partnership with ASEAN countries when it comes to entering the EU market.

During the rise of Asian economies, the emphasis should always be on how to expand the space for cooperation and promote integration, instead of pursuing narrow-minded replacement, which will only lead to vicious competition and more conflict. No country can completely replace another in the global industrial chain.

It is a positive development if Germany is genuinely committed to enhancing cooperation with Southeast Asian countries. This collaboration can act as a stepping stone, rather than a replacement, for Germany's partnership with China, potentially opening up more opportunities and prospects for the prosperity and development of Asia. It would be self-defeating if one aims at driving a wedge between China and ASEAN.

China’s foreign trade off to robust start in first two months, expanding 8.7%

China's merchandise trade in the first two months of 2024 hit a record high of 6.61 trillion yuan ($918.3 billion), up 8.7 percent year-on-year, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) announced on Thursday, beating forecasts and signaling a good start to the new year. 

Experts said that exports had gained growth momentum, thanks to expanding demand and rising product competitiveness. In the longer term, China's foreign trade will show stable and positive expansion, supporting the GDP growth target of about 5 percent.

Exports in the first two months rose 10.3 percent to 3.75 trillion yuan, and imports were up 6.7 percent to 2.86 trillion yuan.

"Foreign trade saw a better-than-expected performance in the January-February period, mirroring the resilience of the country's economy with expanding domestic and external demand," Tian Yun, an economist based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday.

ASEAN remained China's largest trading partner, with bilateral trade totaling 993.24 billion yuan, up 8.1 percent year-on-year and accounting for 15 percent of China's total trade.

The EU was China's second-largest trading partner, with bilateral trade of 832.39 billion yuan, down by 1.3 percent. The US was No.3, with trade up 3.7 percent to 707.7 billion yuan.

In the first two months, trade with Belt and Road Initiative partner countries reached 3.13 trillion yuan, up 9 percent. 

Zhou Maohua, an economist from China Everbright Bank, said on Thursday that the record trade figures reflected the recovery of overseas demand, the optimization of the export structure and a boom in new export drivers. 

Electromechanical products accounted for nearly 60 percent of Chinese exports, with automatic data processing equipment, integrated circuits and automobiles showing significant growth, the GAC said.

Exports of automatic data processing equipment reached 195.45 billion yuan, up 7.3 percent, while exports of integrated circuits soared 28.6 percent and those of vehicles increased 15.8 percent.

"The figures mirrored China's continuous industrial upgrading and showed that the competitiveness of its high-tech products and equipment manufacturing industry in the world was increasing," Tian noted.

Conditions were also favorable for trade by private enterprises. Their total trade stood at  3.61 trillion yuan, up 17.7 percent, accounting for 54.6 percent of the total - an increase of 4.2 percentage points from the same period last year.

"Growth in exports led to an increase in domestic production, while the increase in imports reflected strong domestic demand, both of which will help drive the country's GDP growth in the first quarter this year," Wang Peng, an associate research fellow at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

The Government Work Report, delivered by Chinese Premier Li Qiang on Tuesday at the opening meeting of the second session of the 14th National People's Congress, set a GDP growth target of about 5 percent for 2024.

The government vowed to work to steadily increase the volume and raise the quality of foreign trade, with efforts including supporting businesses in diversifying their overseas markets and increasing new growth drivers for foreign trade, including trade in intermediate goods and green trade.

Tian noted that boosted by support policies, foreign trade will maintain moderately positive growth throughout the whole year with an expansion of 3-5 percent. 

"China's foreign trade is expected to hit a record high this year, contributing more to the realization of the country's GDP growth target," Tian said.

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.

Forest fires should be included in carbon emission accounting system: Chinese scientists

Chinese scientists urged the world to establish a comprehensive carbon accounting system that includes natural processes, especially extreme forest fires, as international delegates are gathering in Dubai to find a deal that will make a real difference in tackling the planet's climate issues at the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), according to the Shenyang-based Institute of Applied Ecology (IAE), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), on Thursday at a press conference on a blue paper on the carbon emissions of forest fires.

Led by the Institute of Applied Ecology, and jointly compiled by the Institute of Earth Environment and the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the CAS, the document points out that, from 2001 to 2022, the annual average area of forest burned globally was 46.95 million hectares, which is 11 times the annual average increase in artificial forest area during the same period.

During this period, the total carbon dioxide emissions from global forest fires reached 33.9 billion tons, which could increase atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration by 4.35 ppm (parts per million), the blue paper said.

Forest fires are a common disturbance in forest ecosystems, significantly affecting the composition, structure and succession characteristics of forests, thereby altering the material cycling and energy flow of forest ecosystems, said Xu Wenru, a researcher at the IAE and one of the lead authors of the blue paper.

Extreme forest fires have become more frequent in recent years, mainly due to climate change and human activities, leading to an increase in global carbon emissions, according to the blue paper.

"Our study has proven that the amount of emissions from forest fires is huge, so we think it is necessary to include forest fire carbon emissions into a carbon emission accounting system. On the other hand, once established, such a comprehensive accounting system will help urge related governments enhance prevention and management of extreme forest fires," Zhu Jiaojun, director of IAE, told the Global Times.

In terms of the impact of climate change and human activities on extreme forest fires, Zhu noted that these three elements are connected. He called for further scientific research and more international cooperation on fire carbon emissions.

Taking the extreme forest fires in Canada in 2023 as an example, the blue paper points out that direct carbon dioxide emissions from this fire exceeded 1.5 billion tons, higher than the total carbon dioxide emissions from forest fires in Canada over the past 22 years (1.374 billion tons). "This severely weakened the carbon sink function of forest ecosystems," Xu noted.

According to the blue paper, from May to August, the forest fires in Canada emitted a total of 10.02 million tons of PM2.5, causing environmental pollution not only in Canada but also significantly affecting air quality in large areas of the Northern Hemisphere.

The blue paper also presented significant spatial differences in global forest fire carbon dioxide emissions, with the carbon emissions from high-latitude coniferous forest areas in the Northern Hemisphere showing a rapid increasing trend. Between 2001 and 2022, Africa witnessed the largest areas that had been burned each year (33.32 million hectares), followed by Southern America (5.18 million hectares) and Asia (5.12 million hectares).

China's forest area accounts for 5.4 percent of the global total forest, but its carbon emissions from forest fires only account for 0.65 percent of the global total for forest fire emissions, significantly lower than the global average, the blue paper noted. From 2001 to 2022, China's carbon emissions from forest fires showed a significant downward trend, with annual average carbon dioxide emissions of 10 million tons.

China has adhered to the policy of "prevention as the primary focus, combining prevention and control." The country has also established an effective forest fire warning and monitoring system, and a comprehensive fire prevention network. Thanks to the efforts of the whole society, both the frequency and the burned area of forest fires have been declining since 2001, according to Xu.

New Taiwan school textbook faces backlash for removing large chunks of traditional Chinese literature

The new curriculum guidelines in China's Taiwan island have been met with huge controversy recently as a local high school teacher slammed the textbooks' removal of large chunks of traditional Chinese literature as "shameless." Her remarks not only gained wide support from student groups across the island but was also recognized by former regional leader Ma Ying-jeou.

Experts said on Tuesday that the "natural independence" among young people in Taiwan is actually a result of the "de-Sinicization" education they have been exposed to under the scheme of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities. This politicization of education is fundamentally fragile and doomed to collapse because, regardless of the efforts made by the DPP, they cannot change the fact that their bloodline and cultural roots stem from China and will always be Chinese.

At a press conference on December 4, Ou Kui-chih, a Chinese literature teacher at Taipei First Girls' High School, blasted the current curriculum guidelines, introduced in 2019 as part of Taiwan's extension of its education program from nine to 12 years, as "shameless." Ou argued that students were no longer able to learn about important values, such as integrity and patriotism, from the classic writings of ancient literary masters, local media reported. 

In an approximately 2,000-character statement, Ou criticized the education reform in Taiwan over the years, saying it has been guided by the ill principle of "de-Sinicization," leading schools, teachers and students into a dark educational abyss.

"While prestigious schools in Japan are asking students to learn Chinese literature and Koreans are claiming that Confucius is from their bloodline, we are ignorantly choosing to sever our cultural heritage," Ou said. "While the world has caught 'Chinese fever,' the Taiwan authorities are choosing to 'self-castrate' and let the whole generation be destroyed by ideology."

The video of Ou's speech soon went viral on social media in Taiwan, with many sharing the poem of Shame and Integrity written by philologist Gu Yanwu from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), which soon began trending on Facebook. 

Local media reported that compared to the previous curriculum, the new one recommends 17 fewer traditional Chinese texts, meaning half of the original content has been deleted.

Former Taiwan regional leader Ma Ying-jeou on Friday said that he admired Ou for speaking out, while Kuomintang (KMT) Vice Chairman Sean Lien said that the DPP was using the guidelines to make Taiwan people "illiterate."

It has been pointed out by several local media outlets and Kuo Jeng-liang, a former Taiwan politician, that the current regional leader Tsai Ing-wen is "terrible and clumsy" at expressing herself in Chinese.

The core of the "de-Sinicization" movement in Taiwan is cultural secessionism, and the purpose is to serve political independence, Wang Jianmin, a senior cross-Straits expert at Minnan Normal University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

While opposition voices for "de-Sinicization" have always been loud but were suppressed in the past, the high school teacher's speech rekindled public attention this time, as the problem was raised by someone in the education system, not driven by factional struggles but purely from the perspective of educational integrity and respect for history. This indicates that the DPP's educational reform has caused serious dissatisfaction within the system itself, experts noted. 

Despite the controversy, however, the DPP will continue its efforts to de-Sinicize Taiwan and uphold its so-called Cultural Fundamental Act, which essentially aims to reconstruct a Taiwan-centric culture and deconstruct traditional Chinese culture, Wang said.

However, while the DPP tries to push forward its secessionist scheme, the fact will always remain that Taiwan compatriots are ultimately descendants of the Chinese nation, with Chinese cultural heritage ingrained in their genes. 

The National Taiwan University initiated a poll on the matter in recent days, in which a total of 1,814 students participated, with 38 percent expressing support for Ou, saying that classical Chinese is an important part of Chinese language education. 

GT investigates: Feeling Xinjiang's intangible cultural heritage

Looking at Xinjiang, and the unique cultural traditions of its various ethnic groups - such as Kazakh throat singing on the grasslands, the Kirgiz eagle hunting customs on the Pamir Plateau, and the Xinjiang songs sung at the foot of the Tianshan Mountains - one can see these diverse ethnic cultures are equally cherished and deeply rooted in the fertile soil of Chinese civilization.

GT reporters again travelled to Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. In this first installment of a series of articles, GT tells character stories based on ethnic cultural inheritance in Xinjiang, which powerfully refute the false information made up by some anti-China forces claiming that "Xinjiang adopts an assimilation policy towards ethnic minorities in an attempt to systematically eliminate Uygur culture."

"Sing it again, follow me..." Under the guidance of their teacher, a group of young students sing in unison with their faces showing seriousness and joy. They are students at Class IV in the ninth grade at the Middle School of Hezwey town in Wuqia county, and they are singing one of the three major epic poems of China's ethnic minorities - Manas.

"How much has the earth changed, with valleys drying up and turning into wastelands, wastelands transforming into lakes, and lakes evolving into fertile fields... Everything is constantly changing, yet the stories of our ancestors have been passed down to this day." The students have deep and powerful voices, along with a passionate demeanor.

Children in Wuqia county in the southwestern part of Xinjiang have grown up almost always accompanied by the song of Manas.

Manas is the legendary hero of the Kirgiz ethnic group, and the epic poem Manas is named after him. It tells his story and the story of seven generations of descendants leading the Kirgiz people to defend their homeland and pursue a happy life. This epic poem, which spans 230,000 lines, can be called the "encyclopedia" of the Kirgiz ethnic group.

Yumtal Yetku, a 15-year-old Kirgiz boy, is one of the inheritors of the poem, studying under the tutorage of Janur Turgaby, a representative inheritor of the Manas intangible cultural heritage project at the autonomous regional level.

When he was 3 years old, influenced by his mother, Yumtal developed an interest in reciting the epic poem. Through years of practice, he honed his skill in reciting it, becoming a well-known "little Manas Qi" (young reciter of Manas) in the local area.

"Although we Manas Qis have an excellent memory, the teacher never lets us hold the text for rote memorization. Instead, he interprets it for us first, and we then recite and sing it after really understanding it," Yumtal told the Global Times. "If we do not understand the hero's emotions, how can we handle the movement and expression of singing, let alone making innovative expressions in our own language?"

When talking about Manas, Yumtal always has a smile on his face. It is not difficult to see that learning Manas brings him joy and a sense of accomplishment. The ability to sing more than 1,000 lines of Manas has allowed Yumtal to surpass his peers. Yumtal said that now he can memorize the content of some eight chapters and sing continuously for half an hour.

In addition to learning from Janur during summer and winter vacations, he also has the opportunity to practice at school. The school has established a club for students interested in Manas, and under the guidance of music teacher Tohtkul Kurbanali, more than 40 club members have the opportunity to learn the poem twice a week. Yumtal has become their tutor.

Zhang Yifan, a 15-year-old Han girl, is also a member of the club. When learning the lyrics of Manas, she writes down the pronunciation in pinyin and often asks her classmates for help. For these children who are about to face the high school entrance examination, singing together is also a great way to relieve stress.

In the local area, people can be seen singing and performing Manas everywhere. The inheritance and protection of the poem is not limited to this school club.

In 2006, Manas was included in the first list of national intangible cultural heritage, and in 2009, it was included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In recent years, with the joint efforts of experts and scholars from various ethnic groups, the research and protection of Manas has achieved remarkable results, such as training of artists, organizing competitions and academic seminars, and publishing and translating the epic poem into multiple languages.

In 2009, the Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture established the Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection (Manas Protection and Research) Center, and has continuously held the Manas international cultural tourism festival and singing competition. At the same time, cultural inheritance training classes have been held in cultural centers, schools, and township comprehensive cultural stations, establishing a team of inheritors that combine the old, middle-aged, and young.

Yumtal told the Global Times that his favorite part of Manas is when the hero turns defeat into victory in a battle. Yumtal admires Manas' courage and determination. Now, this young inheritor of the epic poem also has the same courage. He has participated in the Manas international cultural tourism festival, and often performs with his predecessors on the stage, honing his skills.