China allocates 200 million yuan in disaster relief funds after earthquake in northwest China's Gansu

The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Emergency Management on Tuesday have urgently allocated 200 million yuan ($28 million) in disaster relief funds to northwest China’s Gansu and Qinghai provinces. This funding will support local earthquake relief efforts and ensure the safety of people's lives and property, minimizing the impact and losses caused by the disaster, China Media Group (CMG) reported.

China is stepping up rescue and relief efforts to ensure the safety of people's lives and property after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake shook Jishishan County in northwest China's Gansu Province at midnight Monday.

The State Council has sent a working group to the stricken regions to help guide relief work. Gansu and Qinghai provinces have organized relief support with immediate allocation of relief supplies such as camps and folding beds to impacted areas.

Relief supplies were immediately redeployed from nearby areas, with supplies gradually arriving to impacted communities, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) told a press conference on Tuesday.

The NDRC has activated emergency response mechanism to ensure energy, electricity, and essential supplies. Efforts are being made to repair damaged power facilities and provide emergency power supply. Food and material reserves are being allocated for disaster relief, a spokesperson from the NDRC said.

The first shipment of 46,100 emergency relief supplies from central and provincial level have been dispatched to the disaster-stricken areas, including cotton tents, quilts, mattresses, folding beds, cotton shoes, and stoves, according to Gansu provincial grain and material reserve bureau. The bureau has also obtained 15 tons of flour for emergency supply in Jishishan.

The State Council's earthquake relief headquarters and the Ministry of Emergency Management have upgraded the national earthquake emergency response to Level II.

At present, the earthquake has led 105 deaths in Gansu and 11 deaths in Qinghai, with damaging basic infrastructure such as water, electricity, transportation, and communications, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Rescue and relief efforts are progressing in an orderly manner, including hazard inspections, evacuation and resettlement of residents, and repair of damaged facilities, China Media Group reported.

China releases first blue book on Xinjiang's human rights and legal protections

China released the 2023 Report on Xinjiang's Human Rights and Legal Protections, which is Xinjiang's first blue book of its kind, on Wednesday in Urumqi, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, comprehensively demonstrating the efforts and achievements of promoting high-quality development of human rights cause in Xinjiang in Chinese modernization drive.

The newly released blue book is the first book led by scholars that examines Xinjiang's human rights and legal protections as well as future directions of the people in Xinjiang from an academic perspective, which is groundbreaking, Chang Jian, director of the Human Rights Research Center at Nankai University, told the Global Times on Wednesday at the 2023 Idea and Story Sharing Conference: Promoting High-Quality Development of Human Rights Cause in Xinjiang in Chinese Modernization Drive, where the blue book was published.

Erkin Tuniyaz, chairman of the people's government of Xinjiang region, revealed at the event that currently the overall social situation in Xinjiang remains stable, and there have been no incidents of violent terrorism for nearly seven years. The public's sense of security has reached an unprecedented level. In the eyes of tourists, Xinjiang has become "a place with the best public security management, the safest social environment and the most secure stability." The number of tourists to Xinjiang has increased from 48.6 million in 2012 to 260 million this year, reaching a historic high.

Over the past decade, Xinjiang's GDP has increased from 0.84 trillion yuan ($0.12 trillion) in 2013 to 1.77 trillion yuan in 2022, doubling in size. Per capita disposable income has increased from 13,700 yuan in 2013 to 27,000 yuan in 2022, with an average annual growth rate of over 8 percent. Many economic indicators have outperformed the national average, and the people of all ethnic groups are richer with more development opportunities.

For many years, more than 70 percent of the local fiscal expenditure has been used to guarantee and improve people's livelihoods. The average life expectancy has increased from over 30 years at the establishment of the autonomous region to 75.65 years today, according to a senior official.

The official added that Xinjiang attaches great importance to the excavation, inheritance, and protection of the excellent traditional cultures of all ethnic groups. For example, Uygur Muqam art, Uygur Meshrep and the Kirgiz epic Manas have been included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The promotion and standardized use of the national common language has been vigorously promoted in Xinjiang, and the languages and scripts of all ethnic groups have been widely used in education, judiciary, administration and social public affairs.

According to Erkin, in recent years, Xinjiang has actively expanded the ways for people of all ethnic groups to acquire religious knowledge and translated and published religious scriptures in multiple languages. Xinjiang has built a new campus for Islamic theological colleges and established eight branch campuses in Ili, Hotan, Kashi, and other areas, cultivating a group of high-quality Islamic talents. In particular, for religious activity venues such as mosques, Taoist temples, and Buddhist temples that have been in disrepair for a long time, Xinjiang has effectively improved their conditions by respecting the wishes of religious believers. This has been achieved through new construction, renovation, and expansion, ensuring the unhindered continuation of regular religious activities.

Practice has shown that the development of human rights in Xinjiang is in line with China's national conditions and the reality of Xinjiang, meeting the expectations of people of all ethnic groups, as well as the basic spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Erkin said.

However, some countries turn a blind eye to the increasingly prominent human rights issues in their own countries, and wear colored glasses to criticize the human rights situation in Xinjiang, using human rights issues to interfere in China's domestic affairs, Erkin noted.

The people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are the ones who know best whether the path of human rights in Xinjiang is right or not. The people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang have the most say in whether the human rights situation in Xinjiang is good or not, the regional senior official remarked.

Chang stated that some countries in the international community have weaponized human rights issues to strategically contain China, desperately smearing China's human rights situation. Xinjiang, as a focus of attention, has been falsely portrayed as a region with "forced labor," despite the fact that cotton harvests are good, mechanization levels are high, and efforts have been made to improve the employment rights of the people.

In this context, we have proactively released the blue book to show the outside world and help them understand, how the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang live, showing them experiences of individuals and personal stories. This can clarify the facts and enable the international community to see the true situation of human rights protection in Xinjiang, Chang stressed.

About 200 experts and scholars in the field of human rights from universities and research institutions inside and outside Xinjiang, media journalists, representatives of relevant departments and people sharing their personal stories attended the event on Wednesday.

By sharing touching stories and personal experiences, 10 representatives from various industries and fields in Xinjiang truly demonstrated the development and progress of Xinjiang's human rights cause.

Ice & snow world

A 512.6-meter-long ice slide makes its debut in the Changchun Ice and Snow New World in Changchun, Northeast China's Jilin Province, on December 12, 2023. The Changchun Ice and Snow New World opened its doors to visitors on December 12. Photo: VCG

Guangdong aim for ice hockey gold medal at National Games

Ice hockey competitions for the 2024 Chinese National Winter Games kicked off on Thursday in Hulun Buir in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, with Team Guangdong, debutants at the National Winter Games, aiming for the gold medal. 

The team, representing South China's Guangdong Province where ice and snow is rarely seen, have been labeled hot favorites for the title as the 23-player squad boasts 11 players from the national team. 

Riding on these players' rich experience, they saw off Shanghai 4-2 in their National Winter Games starter on Thursday. 

"Our goal is to win the championship for sure," Yu Baiwei, captain of Guangdong and China's national team, told the Global Times after the win, before noting the team is taking every game with a down to earth attitude.

"We take each game as it comes, aiming to win the next one and perform well in every period and minute. We focus on the process and pay attention to details."

The 34-year-old defender, who scored a goal in the six-goal thriller, also gave credit to the young Shanghai team, whose oldest player Lu Shuang is only 27. Shanghai won the national women's ice hockey championship in 2020.

"They showed great determination and aggression, demonstrating speed and skills with the puck," Yu told the Global Times. "It's great to see more young talent stepping up, as it strengthens the depth of the sport." 

Yu said she hoped to entice more new blood into the sport.

"As an older player, it's not about passing on the legacy, it's about leading and facilitating the rapid growth of young players," Yu told the Global Times. "If I can use my energy and enthusiasm to benefit others, I think it's enough."

The women's ice hockey competition, featuring seven teams, will be played in a round-robin way that runs until July 22. The gold medal for women's ice hockey will be the first gold medal at the 2024 National Winter Games.

It is rare for ice hockey events at the National Winter Games to be held in the summer.

"It allows more people to witness the charm of ice and snow during the summer. It's our first experience participating in such an event during this season," Yu said. "I hope more people can watch our games, fall in love with ice hockey, and even engage in the sport."

Team Guangdong will face tough challenges from rival teams such as China's winter sports powerhouses Heilongjiang and Beijing, led by Chinese national team members Zhang Mengying and Guan Yingying.

Other games on Thursday saw Heilongjiang beat Hebei 3-0 and Shaanxi defeat Sichuan 3-1.

The National Winter Games were originally scheduled to be held in 2020 in Hulun Buir but were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They will be held from February 17 to 27 in 2024.

Chengdu Universiade wraps up with more open dialogue, truer China image among global youth

The Chengdu FISU World University Games concluded on Tuesday as the hosts, the Chinese delegation, finished with 103 gold, 40 silver and 35 bronze medals to sit at the top of the medal table, setting a new record for the best results for China at a FISU Games.

The world-leading Chinese university swimming team has been the biggest contributor for China's medal haul at the Games, as the Chinese swimmers totaled 18 gold and two bronze medals.

Besides the big stars such as multiple-time gold medalists Qin Haiyang, Zhang Yufei and Li Bingjie, names such as five-time National Para Games gold medalist Peng Huidi, who faces a lasting hearing issue, also took the stage.

The Central South University student, who had to rely on a visual confirmation at the start of the race, compared to her opponents who dive into the pool after hearing the starting horn, is a slow starter in every race. 

However, she had successfully improved her result in the 1,500 meters freestyle by a stunning 32.3 seconds. 

Beyond the outstanding performances delivered by the Chinese delegation, which consisted of a total of 411 athletes participating in all 18 events, the tournament has a lot of memorable moments. 

Communication, understanding

FISU Acting President Leonz Eder said Tuesday that Chengdu has really made all dreams come true as he reviews the Games. 

"What we have witnessed here in Chengdu is state of the art. It's the best we can have. It's really fantastic for the athletes, for the spectators, for everybody," he told reporters. "There's nothing to complain about."

FISU Secretary-General Eric Saintrond believes that hosting the Chengdu Universiade has helped foster China's global image as many young people come to visit the city.

"What you see and hear is different from what people tell you," Saintrond said. "Many people have never been to Chengdu and to China."

As for the impact of the FISU Games on the youth, Acting President Eder affirmed that the Games showcased the importance of communication, understanding, and learning from different cultures. 

He asserted that fostering open dialogue and embracing diverse viewpoints is key to creating a better world.

"In some parts of the world, people stopped talking to each other, but the young generation, they don't know these borders, these frontiers," Eder told the Global Times.

"They talk to each other, they learn their own stories, they tell their own stories, they start to communicate, and these are the students, because the students, they speak different languages, and they have no shy to meet other people, and this is really what we believe is needed to make a better world," Eder said of the young people of the world.

"Don't think that your opinion is the only one in the world. We have so many different opinions, different cultures, based on different histories, not one is better than the other, but go and talk to each other, learn from each other, and this is the basic for creating a better world."

Showcasing Chinese culture

The Chengdu FISU Games, the first international multi-sport tournament held in West China, have also become a platform for athletes worldwide to learn about the diverse Chinese culture.

The cultural fair is among the most popular destinations for athletes every night after their competitions. 

"One of the pillars of FISU is education, culture, and sport. We do not just organize sport event. For us it is important to show the young people to give the opportunity to discover the culture, the richness of every place where we are going," Eder said. 

Saintrond highlighted that after the two postponements of the originally scheduled 2021 event, the Universiade was able to provide more opportunities to students to learn about China. 

Saintrond said China hosting an open Universiade, rather than in a closed loop like Tokyo Olympics and Beijing 2022 due to COVID-19, is of much significance.

"It was not only to open the [Games] Village and allow the people to go out of the Village. It is to open the door to the Chinese culture. That has been extremely important for students," he said. "The sports competition is one thing, but the people have to meet each other, have to make friends to get to learn the culture and the history of other nations." 

As Chengdu moves forward to host future sports events, such as the 2025 World Games, venues and facilities as well as the volunteers and staff for the FISU Games are likely to be involved again.

"These facilities will be used not only for university students, but also for the citizens of Chengdu and the province," Eder said. 

"With these fantastic facilities, you can host future games, whether it's world championships or the World Games .... It's important to use all these venues."