Blinken's China visit highlights US needs to cooperate with China on domestic, intl issues

Before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's upcoming visit to China, US officials adopted their usual tactic of using harsh language to apply pressure on China, expressing so-called strong concerns about China's support for Russia and the Taiwan question. Chinese observers stated that the recent frequent visits of Blinken and a string of US officials to China recently indicate that Washington is unable to solve domestic and global issues without cooperation from China. Therefore, when seeking help from Beijing, the US would be wise to communicate with China respectfully and as equals, rather than condescendingly. 

Blinken will meet with senior Chinese officials in both Shanghai and Beijing during his April 24-26 visit, CNN quoted a senior US State Department official as saying on Saturday. 

The US State Department said Saturday that Blinken would "discuss a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues," including the Middle East, the war in Ukraine, the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits.

He will also talk about progress made in "resuming counternarcotics cooperation, military-to-military communication, artificial intelligence, and strengthening people-to-people ties" and will reaffirm how important it is for the US and China to be "responsibly managing competition, even in areas where our two countries disagree," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, according to media report. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian welcomed Blinken's upcoming visit at Thursday's media briefing, but provided no further details. 

Negative factors

After the meeting of the two heads of state in San Francisco last year, China-US relations have to some extent stabilized, but negative factors keep on increasing. Blinken's visit is to implement the consensus of the two heads of state, but from the so-called focus points announced by the US government, it is possible that the visit will widen the differences and create more negative factors, Lü Xiang, research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

Lü pointed out one example as Filipino and US forces will conduct their annual joint military exercises soon, including simulations of sinking ships, which is widely seen as targeted at China. 

During his upcoming visit, Blinken will also reportedly ask Beijing to avoid "provocative" measures during next month's inauguration of Lai Ching-te, who was elected as Taiwan's regional leader in January, AFP quoted a US official as saying.

Blinken's tactical goal this time is clearly to launch a verbal offensive against China, including on the South China Sea, trade issues, and the Taiwan question, in order to put pressure on China, Lü noted. 

He believes that if Blinken puts forward these propositions, China will definitely hit back resolutely. China will also be highly vigilant on the Taiwan question and won't let the US hurt its core interest. 

As the US has already entered the presidential election season, the Biden administration, although deeply mired in domestic political competition, is unwilling to show weakness at this time, and no matter how unprepared it is in dealing with those global issues, officials from the Biden administration are still trying to show that it is capable and strong, said Lü. 

Abandon condescending approach

CNN on Saturday quoted an official from the US State Department as saying that Blinken plans to "reiterate our deep concerns regarding the PRC's support for Russia's defense industrial base, as well as its human rights abuses and unfair economic and trade practices." 

The US House of Representatives on Saturday approved billions of dollars in new US military aid for Ukraine to help combat Russia. The foreign aid package passed on Saturday also includes military support for Israel, and funding for allies in the Asia-Pacific, including island of Taiwan. 

Chinese experts said this foreign aid package mirrored Biden administration's lousy performance on handling foreign affairs. When Biden realized the Russia-Ukraine conflict is beyond US' ability to solve, he forced the House of Representatives to pass a bill to support Ukraine, in order to showcase its strength and to muddy the waters to extricate themselves by blaming the US' failure on China's "support" for Russia. 

After overcoming the obstacles of sending support to Ukraine, Washington will inevitably focus on obstructing China's trade with Russia. China will face new struggle with the US in terms of defending its sovereignty in foreign trade, said experts, noting that Washington should be clear that it has very few tools to pressure China in this regard. 

US foreign aid has prolonged the crisis in Ukraine. As of January 2023, the US commitment to Ukraine amounted to $76.8 billion, of which military aid accounted for the largest share, $46.5 billion, or 61 percent. US media revealed that 40 percent of US military aid to Ukraine is used for the mandatory purchase of US equipment and training services, known as "tied aid." Part of the military aid is a financial loan that will become a long-term liability for Ukraine, said the report released by China titled "the Hypocrisy and Facts of the United States Foreign Aid."

On global issues, apart from expressing "concerns" over China's cooperation with Russia, Blinken will also reportedly discuss the situation in the Middle East. The US has repeatedly called on China both publicly and privately to press Iran to exercise restraint as tensions simmer between it and Israel, according to CNN.

After Iran launched a retaliatory attack on Israel earlier this month, Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he should consider Iran's strikes a win, since they had been largely unsuccessful and demonstrated Israel's ability to defend itself. Biden had already made clear to Netanyahu that the US would not participate in any offensive operations against Iran in response, a senior administration previously told CNN.

Experts suggest that Blinken's upcoming visit, coming as the US presidential election draws near, signals the US government's desire to engage in stabilizing ties with China to avoid any potential incidents that could negatively impact the Biden's election prospects.

The recent frequent visits of Blinken and other US officials to China indicate that without China, it will be difficult for the US to achieve its plans for domestic, regional and global issues. Therefore, the US hopes that China will help it resolve the problems it faces, Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.

However, since the US is seeking help from China, it should do so on the basis of equality and respect in its communication with China. But now, it seems that the US is adopting a pressuring and commanding attitude towards China. This is not conducive to communication, so the US needs to correct its attitude, Li noted. 

Hot job fairs in China help graduates, migrant workers, veterans seek employment

Among Chinese job seekers, the third and forth month of the year are known as "Golden March" and "Silver April," as they are the traditional peak season for both employers and employees when it comes to recruitment. Since March, job fairs have been heating up across the country.

Data shows that the post-Spring Festival job market continues to grow, with recruitment by companies increasing for four consecutive weeks. The service consumption, high-end manufacturing and new energy sectors were hotspots in the job market in the month following the Spring Festival. 

At the same time, the job market this spring has been undergoing structural changes, with industries and positions related to the development of new productive forces, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and big data, in high demand.

A campus job fair held at Nanjing Tech University in East China's Jiangsu Province recently provided thousands of jobs, with positions related to automation engineering and data analysis in the mechanical industry attracting the attention of graduates, the China Central Television (CCTV) reported. 

In Shanghai, a job fair jointly organized by five local universities, including Shanghai Jiao Tong University and East China University of Science and Technology, attracted more than 730 companies and offered 18,000 positions covering over 10 industries, according to CCTV. 

Approximately one-third of the participating companies are in Shanghai's three leading industries - AI, integrated circuits, and biomedicine. The demand for AI talent has reportedly been significantly higher this year, with nearly 30 percent of the positions offered by the Shanghai Artificial Intelligence Research Institute being new emerging positions.

Liu Honglei, a deputy director of the human resources department of the Shanghai Artificial Intelligence Research Institute, told CCTV that understanding of AI among participants this year was much higher compared with recruitment fairs in 2023. According to media reports, the number of college graduates in China is expected to reach 11.79 million in 2024, an increase of 210,000 compared with 2023. 

In order to help college graduates seize this golden period of recruitment, the Chinese Ministry of Education issued a notice in March calling for specialized action. The action focuses on the current difficulties in promoting employment, optimizing employment guidance services and further aggregating social resources for college graduates to seek employment.

In addition to job fairs at universities, recruitment of migrant workers also started off strong this year due to factors such as the recovery of the consumer market, talent mobility during the spring recruitment season, and accelerated industrial upgrading and transformation.

According to media reports, in the first quarter of this year, driven by the New Year and Chinese Spring Festival holidays, the consumer market in various regions continued to heat up, with the most vigorous demand being for sales-related positions. Industries such as catering and manufacturing with high staff turnover have also increased recruitment efforts to meet the high demand during the peak season. 

In the city of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, which is known in China as the "top city of live streaming e-commerce," the demand for positions such as couriers and sorters remains high due to the high volume of deliveries. In established first-tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, as well as new first-tier cities like Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou and Wuhan, relatively high levels of economic development have led to more demand for instant delivery services.

With an increase in inbound international tourists, there is also a surging demand for foreign language tour guides. The daily income of English-speaking tour guides ranges from 400 to 600 yuan ($55-83), which is 100 to 200 yuan higher than Chinese-speaking tour guides. For some other lesser-known languages like Russian, the daily income of tour guides can exceed 1,000 yuan, according to, a news portal affiliated with the Workers' Daily newspaper.  

Xu Lixia, general manager of an international travel agency, told the website that from January to April, their agency's 10 English-speaking guides handled 240 tour groups. 

Furthermore, specialized job fairs for women, veterans or overseas students have also been held in many places to connect these groups with more suitable jobs and provide them with more precise guidance.

Woman discovers camel protein in fillers after spending over $75,000 on breast augmentation

A woman who spent 546,800 yuan ($75,538) on breast augmentation discovered that the fillers contained proteins sourced from camels, bats, and chimpanzees, and the case has sparked heated discussion online. It has also shed light on safety concerns within the rapidly growing cosmetic surgery industry in China.

In 2022, Lanlan was introduced to a beauty and cosmetic surgery institution called "Chu Mei Ren" in Beijing, which touted a breast augmentation technique that involved no surgery or synthetic implants, instead utilizing the consumer's own blood tissue for cultivation, promising a 20-minute procedure resulting in larger breasts.

The institution's director claimed their technique held an exclusive national patent and normally charged 1.94 million yuan for the procedure. However, through a referral discount, Lanlan managed to negotiate the fee down to 546,800 yuan.

According to Lanlan, the operation lasted only 20 minutes, leaving no visible scars. However, over time, she noticed asymmetry and experienced persistent discomfort in her breasts.

During a routine medical examination, a breast ultrasound revealed foreign bodies within her breasts. Subsequent examinations in two different hospitals confirmed the presence of unknown injection fillers and non-native tissue, as well as implants.

Lanlan underwent further surgery, costing an additional 200,000 yuan, to remove the foreign substances. Despite extensive cleansing, traces of the fillers remained, posing potential health risks.

Analysis of the filler samples revealed proteins from various animal sources, including camels, bats, and chimpanzees. Lanlan, now seven months pregnant, faces anxiety over breastfeeding due to the complications from her breast augmentation surgery.

In addition, Lanlan's mother also underwent the same procedure with the same institution, spending over 600,000 yuan, and she experienced breast pain and deformities as well.

The surgeon who operated on Lanlan was found to be a general surgeon at a hospital in Beijing, with no record of multiple institutional practices, violating regulations that require such a record, according to CCTV.

Recently, CCTV reporters revisited Chu Mei Ren institution for investigation but found it closed.

This case sheds light on the safety concerns within the rapidly growing cosmetic surgery industry in China. According to data released by the National Health Commission in January, there are a total of 18,584 compliant medical aesthetics institutions in China (excluding public institutions and private comprehensive ones).

Data from the iResearch institute showed that as of 2020, only 12 percent of medical aesthetic institutions in China were legally compliant, with over 80,000 "black institutions" operating. Legally compliant physicians accounted for only 24 percent, while the number of illegal practitioners is more than 100,000.

The regulatory authorities in China have been intensifying their supervision of the medical aesthetics industry. On April 9, the State Administration for Market Regulation issued a notice announcing the launch of a nationwide campaign from April to November 2024 to regulate advertisements in key sectors including the medical aesthetics industry, which will target unauthorized ads promoting unrealistic beauty standards and crack down on platforms and influencers promoting illegal medical aesthetics during live streams.

In May 2023, 11 government departments, including the State Administration for Market Regulation, jointly issued guidelines asserting that cosmetic procedures must fall under medical activities, requiring compliance with healthcare laws.

The increased supervision of the medical aesthetics industry aims to regulate registration, qualification verification, and information sharing, as well as curbing illegal practices and ensuring public safety.

Allegations of US interference emerge ahead of pivotal election in Solomon Islands

As elections in the Solomon Islands approach, the geopolitical dynamics of the Pacific are drawing intense scrutiny from major global players.

This electoral event has sparked particular interest from the US, along with allegations and complaints about how the US might have been attempting to intervene.

Experts said that as China's contact and cooperation with Pacific Island countries strengthens, the US is increasingly emphasizing its supposed superiority, but this is not resonating with the islanders.

Voting in the Solomon Islands general election is set to take place on Wednesday. It is the first election since China and the Solomon Islands established diplomatic ties on September 21, 2019. Half a month later, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare paid his first visit to China, during which the Solomon Islands officially joined the Belt and Road Initiative.

In the past few years, the Sogavare government has actively cooperated with China, leading to progress in infrastructure construction, improvement of people's livelihoods, and greater social stability in the Solomon Islands. Last year, the Pacific Games were successfully held in a stadium built with China's aid.

Therefore, whether Sogavare can win this year's election is noteworthy. But Sogavare's attitude has aroused dissatisfaction among the US and its allies, who are accustomed to treating the South Pacific region as their own backyard.

"The US cannot tolerate the South Pacific nations developing an equal and reciprocal relationship with China. Instead, it intervenes under the guise of democracy, ultimately aiming to turn these nations into dependencies," Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Friday.

He pointed out the consequences of such policies. "The US mentality is unhealthy, even pathological. It cannot bear the autonomous development of the South Pacific nations, nor can it stand the idea of these countries choosing their own economic development models."

According to Yu Lei, chief research fellow at the Research Center for Pacific Island Countries of Liaocheng University, the effective cooperation between China and the Solomon Islands has become a role model and a driving force for the cooperation between China and Pacific Island countries, which has encouraged other Pacific Island countries such as Papua New Guinea to deepen their cooperation with China. This has caused significant dissatisfaction in Australia and the US.

"Word has it that the US might seek to topple and obstruct Sogavare's government," Yu noted.

A recent investigative article by Russia's Sputnik news agency criticized the US' role and intentions in the upcoming elections in the Solomon Islands. The report suggested that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) might be attempting to influence the election outcome through "democracy promotion" activities, in order to counter China's influence in the region.

The report highlighted concerns over the security agreement between the Solomon Islands and China, which has alarmed the US and its allies who fear it could compromise the US' "island chain strategy" in the Pacific.

The article detailed USAID activities in the Solomon Islands, including engaging with local community political leaders, civil society organizations, and influential individuals, as well as funding surveys and training programs to bolster anti-government sentiment.

An anonymous source disclosed to the Sputnik news agency that they fear the US might incite another riot during the upcoming election to achieve its geopolitical goals.

Meanwhile, according to a report from the Covert Action Magazine earlier this month, the USAID actively intervenes in the electoral processes of other countries through its Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS), aiming to promote regimes that align with American interests.

The CEPPS collaborates with organizations such as the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), all of which have close ties with USAID, with the NDI and IRI having been created by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which is considered a branch of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The reported noted that the USAID's Solomon Islands Election and Political Processes Program (SIEPP), funded through the CEPPS, has conducted voter awareness campaigns in the Solomon Islands, aiming to sway voters toward pro-American candidates.

"The US uses NGOs to interfere in other countries' domestic politics and orchestrate color revolutions, a tactic that is no secret to the world," Li noted, adding that such actions, often branded as promoting democracy, are perceived as attempts to sow discord and crises, drawing scrutiny and raising alarms among policymakers and citizens globally.

These so-called democracy promotion efforts, which are essentially color revolutions, are unlikely to achieve their intended outcomes due to the instability of US policies. Critics argue that the US, while chaotic in its own democratic practices, presumes to set an example for others, Li said.

This lack of calm, objective, and realistic reflections on its own democratic processes disqualifies US decision-makers from legitimately influencing the internal affairs of other nations. Consequently, these actions are met with resistance and resentment, as the results of such democracy promotion activities are often subpar and unwelcome, he noted.

Yu said the US has a variety of conventional methods to tighten control in Pacific island countries. For instance, the US directly deploys military forces in Pacific Island countries to intervene, or mobilizes local mobs and thugs to carry out subversion against some authoritarian regimes and governments perceived as disobedient to the US. The third method is to use the Pacific Islands Forum to besiege so-called disobedient countries, using economic sanctions as a way to exert pressure.

"In the short term, the effects may seem significant, such as through military occupation, which of course yields immediate results. However, in the medium to long term, the effects of the US' activities turn out to be just the opposite. But cooperation with China turns out to be fruitful," Yu said.

According to the Sputnik report, which cited documents provided by an anonymous source, after the Solomon Islands' 2019 election and Sogavare's shift away from the US, SIEPP was launched. Funded by the USAID and partners like the IFES, IRI, and NDI under the "Strengthening Democratic Governance in the Pacific Islands" initiative, SIEPP had an initial budget of nearly $10 million from September 2020 to September 2023. The program, expected to conclude in fall 2023, was extended to April 2024 with an additional $1.5 million after the election postponement by Sogavare.

In 2021, residents of Malaita and other islands expressed opposition to the Solomon Islands government's decision to establish diplomatic relations with China, leading to violent incidents. Parts of Honiara, especially the Chinatown in the city center, were burned and looted, resulting in significant losses for Chinese nationals.

Days after the riots, Prime Minister Sogavare told the press that the crisis was influenced and encouraged by other powers. He further indicated that these forces influencing Malaita, the main island of the nation, are those that "don't want ties with the People's Republic of China," according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

However, a memorandum of understanding to establish friendly exchange relations was signed last week between Malaita Province and East China's Jiangsu Province. This new chapter follows years of skepticism, indicating a pivot toward cooperation and mutual growth, analysts noted.

"The local ordinary people and politicians of the Pacific Island countries are very pragmatic. They will support whoever can bring about substantial improvements to their lives. The Pacific Island countries also see that China treats them with real respect and equality without exerting any pollical or economic pressure on them," Yu said.

Platform 9¾ appears in Beijing subway, drawing in Harry Potter enthusiasts

Platform 9¾, a beloved scene from the iconic Harry Potter series, magically materialized at a station in the Beijing subway on Tuesday, enchanting fans who flocked to capture the moment with their phones.

According to the Beijing Daily, the unique platform display has been set up at the East Gate of Peking University Station on Line 4. The platform is adorned with red brick-style posters wrapping each pillar in the middle aisle. Positioned in front of the two central pillars is a luggage cart seemingly "vanishing" into the wall, reminiscent of a scene from the movie.

Additionally, the cart is loaded with three red suitcases and a basket filled with yellow scrolls, evoking a sense of nostalgia and magic throughout the subway station. This enchanting display has captivated the attention of many passengers, who are drawn to gather around and capture the moment with photographs.

"In the eyes of ordinary people, this platform may seem like just a wall, but to a true wizard, it is a portal to Platform 9¾ where the Hogwarts Express awaits," a movie enthusiast surnamed Chen explained, as she excitedly shared the story with her friends. Chen, who had discovered the magical spot via social media, couldn't contain her excitement and immediately made plans to visit with her friends.

In addition to people arriving to capture moments with their cameras, the station hall was also bustling with photographers and young individuals donning wizard robes and wigs.
Beijing subway Line 4 has introduced a Harry Potter themed train, adorned with enchanting posters and decorations inspired by the beloved series. From Quidditch to owls, the train immerses passengers in the magical world of Hogwarts. "As I board this train, I can't help but feel transported to that school of wizardry in my dreams!" exclaimed many excited fans.

In response to the high volume of people on site, cautionary lines and signs have been placed around the decorative wall to ensure the safety of passengers.

Chinese FM refutes Philippine defense chief’s smear of ‘propaganda trap’ over South China Sea

The Chinese Foreign Ministry slammed the Philippines on Tuesday for violating China's sovereignty, inciting external forces to provoke China and damage regional peace and stability. The Chinese side also refuted a smear campaign by a Filipino senior official, urging Manila to respect the facts and abide by its commitments.

Tensions between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea issues are growing in the recent months. In the latest episode, Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr on Tuesday warned that Filipinos to be wary of Chinese “propaganda trap” which may deflect “Beijing’s encroachment” of South China Sea. 

In an open letter, Teodoro said "let us not fall into the trap set by Chinese propaganda of refocusing the debate on a so-called promise while deflecting attention away from China's government, thereby freeing and allowing them to continue with their illegal activities in our exclusive economic zone," according to the Phil Star. 

The Philippines keeps accusing China of “intimidating smaller countries” without mentioning at all the Philippine occupation of and encroachment on China’s territory in Nansha Qundao. That is a real propaganda “trap,” Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry, responded at a Wednesday briefing.

On the issue of Ren’ai Jiao, it’s not the size, but the behavior of a country that determines who is right and who is wrong, Wang said. 

According to Wang, right after the Philippines deliberately grounded its warship on Ren’ai Jiao in 1999, which seriously violated China’s sovereignty, China made démarches to the Philippines, and the Philippines promised to tow away the warship several times. A senior official of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs made it clear that the Philippines had no intention of building any facility on Ren’ai Jiao and it doesn’t want to and will not be the first country to violate the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

But 25 years on, not only hasn’t the Philippines fulfilled its promise to tow away the warship, it has even attempted to send construction materials for large-scale repair and reinforcement of the warship in order to build permanent structures on Ren’ai Jiao, noted Wang. 

The Philippines has gone back on its words, and stirred up trouble to provoke China. This is not only breach of the understandings between the two sides on handling the Ren’ai Jiao issue, but also a violation of the DOC, especially its Article 5 on refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features, the spokesperson stated.  

The Philippines is clearly responsible for the current tensions in the South China Sea, Wang added.

Wang further remarked that China and ASEAN countries have long been committed to properly managing and resolving disputes through dialogue and consultation between states directly involved, and worked together to jointly maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, which has kept the South China Sea generally stable. But for some time, the Philippines has been pulling non-regional actors into the South China Sea affairs to back Philippine provocations and violation of China’s sovereignty.

“The Philippines has been pursing selfish gains at the expense of the consensus reached by countries in the region. This is the main reason why the situation in the  South China Sea has escalated and become more complicated,” Wang stressed. 

"We once again urge the Philippines to respect the facts, observe the relevant understandings between the two sides and DOC provisions, follow the consensus reached between China and ASEAN countries, and return to the right track of properly managing and resolving disputes through dialogue and consultation as soon as possible,” Wang added. 

GT Investigates: Australian media urged to play a more positive role in promoting cooperation, peace as they enhance sneaky maneuvers in PICs to smear China

Editor's Note:

"Cognitive Warfare" has become a new form of confrontation between states, and a new security threat. With new technological means, it sets agendas and spreads disinformation, to change people's perceptions and thus alter their self-identity. Launching cognitive warfare against China is an important means for Western anti-China forces to attack and discredit the country. 

Some politicians and media outlets have publicly smeared China's image by propagating false narratives in an attempt to incite and provoke dissatisfaction with China among people in certain countries. These means all serve the seemingly peaceful evolution of the US strategy to contain China's rise and maintain its hegemony. The Global Times is publishing a series of articles to reveal the intrigues of the US-led West's China-targeted cognitive warfare, and expose its lies and vicious intentions. 

In the 11th installment of the series, the Global Times exposed Australian media's deceptive tactics to stir up confrontation and misunderstanding between Fiji and China, while encouraging them to play a more constructive role in promoting cooperation, peace, and development amid recent warming signals of relations and exchanges between China and Australia. 

Some Western media outlets have been sparing no effort to smear China's cooperation with South Pacific Island Countries (PICs). In a recent move, 60 Minutes Australia released a video program entitled "China's dirty tactics to control Pacific" on March 24 to further smear normal exchanges and cooperation between China and Fiji. The video alleges that behind this cooperation are China and Chinese businesspeople who are "supporting drug trafficking organizations in Fiji" and are seeking as much influence as possible in the island nation.

The video and the following reports are based on lies, speculations, and presumptions of guilt and are full of ideological bias and distortion of facts, the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Fiji said in a statement on March 26. He firmly denounced the video and the subsequent reports in the statement. The spokesperson made clarifications in response to the trumped-up charges claimed in the video one by one. 

For decades, Australia, the "manager" of the US in their perceived South Pacific region "backyard," has blatantly projected its expansive hegemony by treating the PICs as its vassal states.

Although the region has been "neglected" by the US and Australia for a long time, when China attempts to cultivate normal cooperation and economic exchanges there, Canberra, Washington, as well as their allies resort to unrelenting hysteric attacks against China.

In 2022, their target was the security pact between China and the Solomon Islands. Recently, they turned their focus to Fiji, which is considered the leader of the PICs, especially by Australia, which views this region as a power range that must be contested and protected. 

Efforts by some Australian media sources to "spread" Western democratic values and increase their external propaganda in Fiji are increasing, the Global Times learned from some sources in Fiji, who are direct witnesses to the Australian media's sneaky maneuvers to sow discord between Fiji and China.

Reports based on a deliberate distortion of facts would not only erode the credibility of these media outlets but also threaten to destabilize regional peace and development, analysts warned. They called for certain Australian media outlets to return to the right track of playing a more positive role in promoting cooperation and regional peace rather than stirring up trouble.  

Same old tricks

Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka put on hold the decade-old police cooperation between Fiji and China shortly after forming his government in December 2022, citing differences in policing, investigations, and legal systems. 

After reviewing a policing cooperation deal with China for one year, Fiji decided to maintain the cooperation despite mounting pressure from the US and Australia. The Chinese Embassy in Fiji confirmed this information with the Global Times on March 17. The move reflects that such cooperation, fundamentally different from that with Western countries, stems from the strong demand of the PICs, Chinese experts said.  

The above-mentioned 60 Minutes Australia video discredited the China-Fiji police cooperation as a way to conduct "mass kidnapping" and "exert power in the region." 

"This allegation disregards facts in favor of a hidden agenda. It is a demonization and malicious distortion of normal cooperation between China and Fiji," the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Fiji said on March 26, firmly refuting the video's claims in the statement.

Police cooperation is just the latest excuse being used by Australian media outlets to smear China's cooperation with the PICs in their constant promotion of the "China threat" theory. 

"They [Australian media] usually portray China's normal exchanges and cooperation with the PICs as a means for major powers to seek power in geopolitical competition, insinuating that China is interfering in the internal affairs of the island countries and eroding their sovereignty," a source who requested anonymity told the Global Times, referring to the negative portrayal of Fiji's participation in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a prominent example of how Australian media outlets always claim that China's infrastructure projects are setting "debt traps" for the island countries.

Another similar old trick used by some Australian media outlets and officials is to draw parallels between Western and Eastern ideologies by emphasizing Australia's Vuvale Partnership, or family partnership, with Fijians, emphasizing the shared values of "democracy and freedom." This move, as experts said, is aimed at creating doubts about or distancing from China's political system and ideology.   

Some Australian media outlets have also accused China of manipulating agents - for example, Zhao Fugang, a businessman featured in the 60 Minutes Australia program - to increase penetration in Fiji, engaged in crimes with Western competitors like the US and Australia. 

In a response to the 60 Minutes Australia, the Chinese Embassy in Fiji noted that Zhao is a Fijian national and his activities and operations in Fiji should be addressed to the Fijian government.

The Chinese Embassy stressed that 60 Minutes Australia's suspicion of the relationship between the Chinese government and the Chinese community in Fiji is entirely groundless. 

Real dirty tactics

The above-mentioned attacks are baseless and always predicated upon unsubstantiated information and even lies, experts pointed out.  

The Global Times found that, in these kinds of reports, Australian media outlets usually quote information from certain intelligence agencies whose authenticity cannot be confirmed. 

Based on information from unknown sources, these media outlets take things out of context, and piece together a false news story. They then virally spread these reports via diverse channels, including television, radio, documentaries, and social media platforms.

Many Australian media outlets, such as the Sydney Morning Herald and most recently Channel 9 news, also work together to create a matrix effect by reporting on the same issue at the same period of time.  

Australian media outlets also maintain close cooperation with Fiji's local media outlets to ensure that these reports spread to Fiji. Local mainstream media outlets in Fiji have signed cooperation agreements with various Australian media outlets, resulting in a wide coverage range. In addition to high-level exchanges, there are also exchanges of film and television products such as TV series and documentaries. 

The world news section of Fijian media outlets mainly consists of reports from Western media outlets such as the BBC and ABC, with very little original reporting from Fijian media sources. This can lead to a lot of negative publicity in the world news section, experts pointed out. 

Australian media outlets also provide a lot of assistance to Fijian media, such as purchasing equipment or exchanging film and television resources, due to lower media capabilities in Fiji. This assistance is valuable to them, and they will often publish whatever is provided by Australian media outlets. Training and exchange programs also penetrate the upper levels of Fijian media, influencing the stance of the newspapers, a local insider close to the matter told the Global Times. 

Additionally, Australian think tanks and scholars often visit Fijian schools. Under the guise of neutrality and objectivity, some of them, in fact, act as spokespersons for the Australian government. They often publish articles in local media outlets, warning about "debt traps" and "loss of sovereignty" due to Chinese influence, and hold forums and lectures at universities to spread negative opinions and instigate anti-China sentiment, according to the Fijian insider.

Meanwhile, amid Australian media's intensified attacks against China, some scholars in Fiji were recently warned not to express political opinions using their academic affiliations, the Global Times has learned. 

Call for positive role in promoting cooperation

Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times, that the actions of Australian media outlets are not surprising due to their alignment with the Five Eyes alliance, including the US and the UK, shaping their narratives and intelligence efforts to serve US interests. 

Consequently, any enhancement of China's presence, whether in the Arctic or in the South Pacific Islands, faces inevitable denigration, particularly from Australian media outlets closely linked to intelligence and security sectors, Li stated.

"The reckless discourse of Australian media has tangible adverse effects," Li noted, "not only undermining the media's own credibility but also complicating China's diplomatic relations, particularly in the South Pacific region like Fiji."

This has set up unnecessary obstacles in China's interactions with these countries, benefiting foreign political forces keen on intensifying geopolitical competition with China.

Li lamented that such media behavior fosters misunderstandings and escalates difficulties in public engagements with China, injecting harmful geopolitical narratives into the South Pacific, and posing risks of division and confrontation. He concluded that these actions serve to damage the regional interests of most countries in the area, indicating a regrettable course of conduct by the media. 

He called for certain Australian media outlets to play a more positive and more active role in promoting cooperation, peace, and development, highlighting the recent warming of relations and exchanges between China and Australia. 

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi concluded on March 21 his first visit to Australia in seven years with positive signs signaling that normal bilateral ties are back on track. 

About one week after Wang's visit, China's Ministry of Commerce announced, on March 28, a decision to cancel anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs levied on Australian wine. The removal of the tariffs shows a pragmatic attitude on both sides to solve their trade disputes through dialogue and negotiations, Chinese experts said, anticipating more robust development in trade and economic relations between the two countries.

Gray area in spotlight

On the doors of the women's toilets at Peking University Third Hospital Reproductive Center, it is hard to miss the stickers which bear the words "surrogacy" and "gender selection," along with a phone number. With couples from all over China coming to seek the help of assisted reproductive technology (ART) in the hospital where the first "In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)-baby" in China was born, these stickers are enticing, but also dangerous as surrogacy is illegal in China.

Song Lin (pseudonym), who has been receiving treatment in the reproductive center for five years, trying to have an IVF-baby, is one of those being allured by the stickers. "I have gone through two rounds of egg retrieval and five times of embryo transfer but I still cannot have my own baby… I felt exhausted and thought surrogacy may be the best answer," said Song.

However, when Song dialed the number on the sticker, she could not get through or was told the number does not exist. On WeChat, she later shared her experience in a mutual-aid group among women who are also trying to have an IVF-baby and some warned her of swindlers and some said people they knew had got babies via underground surrogacy services in South China's Guangdong Province.

Song finally gave up the idea of seeking surrogacy due to the high risk. But discussions over surrogacy have continued with underground surrogacy services growing in China due to the increasing demand, and the topic has recently attracted more attention as certain public hospitals in multiple places across China were reportedly involved in commercial surrogacy.

Several hospitals in Central China's Hunan and Hubei provinces, East China's Zhejiang Province and Guangdong Province were also reportedly connected with surrogacy organizations to offer ART related services to surrogate mothers or selling birth certificates, according to media reports. Local authorities vowed to crack down on the illegal use of ART. 

Underground business

According to "Administrative Measures for Human Assisted Reproductive Technology" released in 2001, medical institutions and medical personnel are not allowed to implement any form of surrogacy technology and medical institutions that implement surrogacy technology will be given a warning and a fine of up to 30,000 yuan and may be held criminally liable. In 2007, the former Ministry of Public Health (now the National Health Commission) revised several administrative measures and regulations related to ART and reiterated "the implementation of surrogacy technology is prohibited." 

But underground surrogacy service continues to grow in China with some organizations offering packaged service to cater to the different needs. 

"Our patients include those who prefer not to give birth and also those who suffer infertility or aphoria," Jessy, who works in a Beijing-based private medical institution, told the Global Times. 

The institution's services include offering egg and sperm retrieval of the clients in the institution and arranging blastocyst embryo transfer into the surrogate mother in public hospitals to "legalize" the procedure. The institution also provides antenatal care to the surrogate mothers. The total price is around 600,000 to 800,000 yuan, according to Jessy.

For those who worry about the legitimacy of surrogacy in China, Jessy said her institution could also help clients go to the US to use surrogacy, and the total fee is about $140,000.

Heated discussions

Although Jessy's institution also promised to offer health certificate to baby born through surrogacy to eliminate worries, the legal concerns still exist. In fact, for years, the discussions over whether surrogacy should be allowed among specific groups or how to further regulate the using of ART have been ongoing. 

There are also voices in China that strongly disapprove of surrogacy in any form with some noted that surrogacy not only violates human dignity and fair reproductive rights, it also causes legal disputes.

There are multiple legal risks related to surrogacy in China and contract disputes caused by surrogacy occur frequently as various parties have been involved in the contract. And the standards for judging similar cases and the application of foreign-related laws urgently need to be unified, Zhong Lan'an, a lawyer from the Beijing-based Jingsh Law Firm, told the Global Times. 

Surrogacy may involve issues such as custody and property inheritance for children born out of wedlock. It may also cause disputes over the spouse's reproductive rights, confirmation of parent-child relationship, liability for children's health, and liability for the surrogate mother's health, said Zhong. 

For cross-border surrogacy, additional legal issues, including nationality and immigration may arise given that different countries have different legal regulations on surrogacy, said the lawyer.

Despite the legal risks and prohibition of surrogacy in China, it has continued to be practiced to cater for the growing demand. Zhong noted that as China's population ages and the fertility rate continues to decline, some people who have a very urgent need to have their own children can have their demand met through surrogacy. But the surrogacy industry is full of chaos and needs to be regulated and managed through legislation.

Huang Wenzheng, a demography expert and senior researcher at the Center for China and Globalization, believes surrogacy should be allowed for some groups, including couples who are unable to have children and those who are past the fertile years but have lost their only child. 

Simply banning surrogacy may lead to thriving underground services, resulting in more chaos and illegal activities, said Huang, advising to improve legislations on surrogacy and strictly control the applied range of surrogacy and strengthen supervision of related industries.  

Although discussions over the ethical and legal dilemmas in surrogacy remain in China, many scholars who hold different views on surrogacy agree that the country needs to improve the legislation and regulation on surrogacy and adapt to the adjustment of reproductive policies, and the development of surrogacy technology. 

Moreover, efforts should also be made to ensure that citizens have access to safe, standardized and effective ART services, minimize the risks of assisted reproductive services, and improve medical conditions for couples who seek ART technologies, analysts suggest. 

Xi meets Sri Lankan PM

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena in Beijing on Wednesday.

Noting that the friendship between China and Sri Lanka enjoys a long history and the two peoples share a natural affinity, Xi said consolidating and promoting China-Sri Lanka relations serves the fundamental interests and reflects the common expectations of the two peoples.

China is willing to work with Sri Lanka to carry forward the spirit of the Rubber-Rice Pact, which is characterized by "independence, self-reliance, unity and mutual support," to consolidate political mutual trust, enhance exchanges of experience in governance, expand practical cooperation, and advance the high quality Belt and Road cooperation, Xi said.

He noted that China and Sri Lanka should join hands to advance their strategic cooperative partnership featuring sincere mutual assistance and ever-lasting friendship.