China launches largest natural uranium mining project

Work on a natural uranium production project in Ordos, North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China’s largest so far, started on Friday, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) told the Global Times. The project will help to ensure the nation’s supply of a key mineral resource.  

The project is being conducted by CNNC, with investment of about 1.5 billion yuan ($206,82 million), said a report by China Media Group. It will have the largest capacity and highest construction level of any domestic natural uranium production site.  

The project will use the latest green and digital mining systems and technologies, realizing lower emissions, sustainable development and remote monitoring, said CNNC. 

Natural uranium is known as the material basis for the nation’s nuclear industry development, and is an important strategic resource and energy mineral for ensuring national security. 

According to a survey released by China Nuclear Energy Association on April 15, 2024, China currently has 55 commercial nuclear power units in operation with a total installed capacity of 57.03 million kilowatts, ranking third in the world following the US and France. 

Data from the National Energy Administration shows that China’s electricity generated by nuclear power reached 58.08 million kilowatt-hours from January to May this year, up 2.3 percent year-on-year. 

Rail cargo transport sets new records in June, empowers H1 foreign trade

China's railway operator said that the nation's railway freight volume and turnover reached new highs in June, cementing the foundation for an economic recovery and foreign trade rebound. 

The remarkable progress showed the steady advancement of China's railway transport sector, Sun Zhang, a railway expert at Shanghai Tongji University, told the Global Times on Sunday, adding that it also highlighted the irreplaceable and prominent role of railway transport. 

In June, China's railway system transported 332 million tons of cargo, up 6.1 percent year-on-year, and achieved freight turnover of 266.5 billion ton-kilometers, up 5.3 percent year-on-year, said China Railway via its official social media account on Sunday.

China's railway freight volume -- No.1 in the world -- surpassed the total volume of the US and Russia, which ranked second and third.

Transport Minister Li Xiaopeng told a press conference on July 10 that the total length of China's operating railways reached 159,000 kilometers as of the end of 2023, with high-speed railways surpassing 45,000 kilometers.

Li noted that a basic railway framework with "six arteries, seven corridors and eight channels" has been formed, which covers links among China's major economy clusters, the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor and other outbound railway routes, and specific regional railway connections. 

China set a new record for foreign trade in goods in the first half of 2024, with a year-on-year increase of 6.1 percent to 21.17 trillion yuan ($2.9 trillion), data released by the General Administration of Customs showed on Friday. 

In terms of international railway transport, China Railway said that 1,719 China-Europe freight trains were operated in June, up 15 percent year-on-year, and they carried 180,000 standard containers, up 11 percent year-on-year. 

In the first half of 2024, the China-Laos Railway, the flagship project under the Belt and Road Initiative, facilitated 2.783 million tons of cross-border cargo, up by 20.7 percent year-on-year. 

ASEAN remained China's largest trade partner during the first half year, with bilateral trade reaching 3.36 trillion yuan, up by 10.5 percent year-on-year.

"The so-called 'decoupling' from China launched by some Western countries affected China's foreign trade volume, but new export paths formed by international railways to Southeast Asia and Central Asia can make up the loss," said Sun.

China issues plan to support low-carbon transformation of coal-fired power

China has issued an action plan to promote the low-carbon transformation of coal-fired power, with plans to diversify financing channels and grant preferential loan policies to qualified projects.

The plan also includes improving carbon-reduction-related technologies for coal-fired power, as well as new infrastructure construction. This will help to ensure China's energy security amid the global green energy transition, experts said.

The plan, co-issued by the National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration (NEA), will enhance financial support for coal-fired power low-carbon transformation projects. This will be based partly on funds raised via ultra-long special treasury bonds, and there will be policy support based on local conditions.

Coal-fired power low-carbon transformation projects will be encouraged to diversify their financing channels through methods such as issuing green bonds or applying for technology transformation loans.

Financial support and preferential loan policies will boost financing, and more private funds may be directed into the field of coal-fired power low-carbon transformation, Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Monday.

Data from the NEA showed that from January to May this year, China's total installed power generator capacity reached 3.03 billion kilowatts, up 14.1 percent year-on-year. About 1.4 billion kilowatts came from coal-fired power generators, indicating the irreplaceable role of coal in China's energy structure.

However, China is still making efforts in the green energy transition. The nation's green energy consumption accounted for 26.4 percent of overall energy consumption, 11.0 percentage points more than the level in 2012, a spokesperson for the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.

The plan also noted that by 2025, the first batch of coal-fired power low-carbon transformation construction projects will all have started, and the carbon emissions of the related projects will be reduced by around 20 percent compared to the average carbon emissions level of similar coal-fired power units in 2023.

By 2027, the low-carbon coal-fired power generation technology route will be further expanded, with significant reductions in construction and operating costs, and the carbon emissions will see a decline of about 50 percent from the level in 2023, according to the plan.

Cong Yi, a professor at the Tianjin School of Administration, told the Global Times on Monday that low-carbon transmission of coal-fired power could be commenced in fields such as thermal efficiency utilization, carbon capture and electricity transmission.

"The low-carbon transformation of coal-fired power will make China's green energy transition process more smooth and more moderate," Cong noted.

Drainage of 210-million-cubic-meter standing water starts after breached dike at Dongting Lake sealed off

Drainage of 210-million-cubic-meter standing water in the flooded Tuanzhou dike region due to spillover from the rain effected Dongting Lake in Central China’s Hunan Province fully started on Tuesday morning, after the breached dike was successfully repaired late on Monday night, thanks to on-site rescuers racing against time to plug the 226-meter breach within 77 hours, well ahead of schedule. 

Drainage equipment was promptly dispatched and deployed to the flooded Tuanzhou township, Huarong county in Hunan Province. As of Tuesday morning, a variety of submersible equipment, electric pumps, along with other necessary drainage tools had been delivered to the Tuanzhou embankment to carry out drainage operations. 

At around 7 am on Tuesday, a team specializing in handling waterlogging from the Hunan provincial firefighting and rescue force arrived at the Tuanzhou embankment to start drainage work.

China’s National Fire and Rescue Administration also dispatched firefighting and rescue forces from Central China’s Hubei Province, Southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality and Guizhou Province to the scene on Tuesday morning to provide cross-provincial support. 

Drainage work deployment began on late Monday night to lower the level of the standing water within the flooded Tuanzhou dike region, in order to reduce the flood control pressure on a 14.35-kilometer-long embankment. 

Multiple cases of dike piping were identified along the embankment on Monday morning, with more than 300 armed police officers, firefighters, and other rescue personnel urgently dispatched to address the situation, effectively and promptly controlling the piping hazard. 

As of Monday evening, a total of 24 hazardous incidents such as piping and water seepage reported along the embankment had all been resolved, Zhu Dongtie, director of Hunan Provincial Department of Water Resources said during a press briefing on Monday evening, noting that as the time extends, the pressure on the embankment will increase considerably.

On late Monday night at 10:31 pm, rescue personnel successfully sealed the breached dike at China’s second-largest freshwater lake, from which a total of 210 million cubic meters of water, equivalent to the volume of water of 15 West Lakes, remained within the Tuanzhou dike region, flooding 47.64 square kilometers out of the region, forcing six villages and one community with a total of 7,680 residents to vacate their homes. 

In order to alleviate the flood defense pressure on “the second line of defense” and quickly restore normal activity within the flooded Tuanzhou dike region, there remains an urgent need to lower the water level inside the embankment and discharge remaining floodwater. 

Experts suggested that the daily drop in water level should not exceed 30 centimeters in a bid to drain the standing water as quickly as possible meanwhile ensuring the safety of the dike, Central China Television (CCTV) reported on Monday. 

Calculated according to the area of 50 square kilometers of Tuanzhou dike region, the daily volume of drainage is estimated to be around 15 million cubic meters of water. Since the terrain of Tuanzhou dike region is characterized by being higher on both sides and lower in the middle, the standing water in the higher terrain will be drained faster while water pooling in lower terrain will be drained more slowly, with approximately a total of 17 days needed to drain all the water in the region, according to CCTV. 

China’s Ministry of Water Resources has required to thoroughly implement all follow-up response measures including continuously analyzing and assessing potential risks such as the prolonged high-water levels as well as the piping, seepage and slope failures at the Dongting dike and other dikes. 
Local officials also reminded the public to remain vigilant for new flood warnings during the drainage process, noting that emergency response tasks remain complex and challenging. 

PLA Navy's second 10,000 ton-class hospital ship starts South China Sea medical rounds

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy's second 10,000 ton-class hospital ship recently embarked on a voyage to islands and reefs in the South China Sea to conduct medical rounds and rescue exercises, with experts saying on Thursday that the vessel will enhance the PLA Navy's logistics capabilities and provide extra public security goods to the international community.

The hospital ship Silkroad Ark set out from a naval port in Zhanjiang, South China's Guangdong Province on Wednesday to conduct medial rounds in the South China Sea, including islands and reefs of Xisha Qundao (also known as Xisha Islands) and Nansha Qundao (also known as Nansha Islands) such as Yongxing Dao (also known as Yongxing Island) and Yongshu Jiao (also known as Yongshu Reef), as well as islands and reefs along the southern coast of the mainland, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Thursday.

During the voyage, troops stationed on islands and reefs will board the hospital ship to receive diagnoses and treatment, and the ship's medical staff will also disembark from the ship to make rounds of visits to the troops' combat positions, CCTV reported.

The vessel will also conduct exercises for rescuing the wounded at sea, the report said.

The mission demonstrates that the Silkroad Ark is now in active service with the PLA Navy, observers said.

The Silkroad Ark is the second 10,000 ton-class far-seas capable hospital ship domestically developed by China, after the Peace Ark. The Silkroad Ark shares the same design as the Peace Ark but has a larger displacement and a longer endurance, according to CCTV.

In wartime, it will conduct maritime rescue and evacuation missions, while in peacetime, it will engage in medical rounds for residents and troops on islands and reefs, deliver international humanitarian aid services, join major disaster relief and emergency medical rescue operations, as well as participate in foreign military medical exchange and cooperation missions, CCTV reported.

Amid tensions in the South China Sea, the Silkroad Ark's voyage will provide strong logistics support and boost the morale of Chinese frontline personnel, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Thursday.

The move will also demonstrate China's actual jurisdiction and control over the islands and reefs in the South China Sea, the expert said.

Chinese military expert Zhang Junshe told the Global Times on Thursday that the Silkroad Ark and the Peace Ark will enable the PLA Navy to deploy two hospital ships in two different regions, contributing to overall combat readiness.

Both vessels are far seas-capable, meaning that they can sail to other parts of the world and provide humanitarian aid, fulfilling China's international obligations as a responsible major country, Zhang said.

China remains engine for global growth and attractive destination for investment: FM

China's stable economic growth and opening-up will continue to make the country an engine for global growth and promising destination for foreign investment. China welcomes foreign enterprises to continue to invest in the country, deepen their presence and be successful, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Friday.

The remarks came following the European Commission recently upgrading its forecast for China's 2024 economic growth to 4.8 percent, up by 0.2 percentage points compared with its previous projection.

In the first quarter of the year, the Chinese economy got off to a strong start, with GDP growth hitting 5.3 percent year-on-year. In April, the country's purchasing managers' index (PMI) for the domestic manufacturing sector was reported at 50.4. Last month, the country's foreign trade soared 8 percent to 3.64 trillion yuan, hitting a new high compared with corresponding historical period, official data showed.

The upward recovery momentum has made the international community positive on the Chinese economy and increase investment in China. Recently, international financial institutions including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and UBS have upgraded their forecasts for China's economic growth this year.

The Asian Development Bank data estimated China will account for 46 percent of growth in developing Asia in 2024-25.

Foreign investors' confidence in China is on the rise. The country improved its ranking as an attractive destination to invest over the next three years, jumping to the third place from the seventh in 2023, and continuing to lead emerging markets, according to a report recently released by consulting firm Kearney.

China seeks development amid continued opening-up, and welcomes the world to share China's opportunities, Wang said at a regular press conference. China's stable economic growth and continuous opening-up will make the country a global economic growth engine and a promising investment for companies from all countries, said the spokesperson.

GT Voice: Innovative ways needed to move China-Japan-S.Korea trilateral cooperation forward

While external forces have complicated relations among China, Japan and South Korea, the new challenges facing regional economic development have also spurred them to seek new avenues for cooperation in the current global political and economic landscape. This has been a key factor in the increasing signs of warming trilateral cooperation.

The Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Japan Business Federation and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade plan to co-host a trilateral business summit later this month in Seoul, the Yonhap News Agency reported on Monday.

The gathering has been held since 2009 with the goal of expanding Northeast Asian economic cooperation and exchanges. Most recently, the event was held in 2019 in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Although the resumption of the gathering has not been officially confirmed, the eagerness of South Korea to advance trilateral cooperation is palpable. However, the future of trilateral cooperation will ultimately depend on the determination of Japan and South Korea to expand their cooperation and their ability to resist pressure from the US.

There is no question that China, Japan and South Korea possess the necessary foundation for economic and trade cooperation. Enhancing economic cooperation among the three countries is not only essential for regional development, but will also be crucial in promoting peace and prosperity in East Asia and globally. However, it is geopolitical factors, rather than economic considerations, that have impeded their collaboration.

As a result of the recent "decoupling" push by the US, Japan and South Korea, as key Asian allies of the US, have aligned their stance with the US on various issues, including taking a tough approach toward China in areas such as supply chains, science and technology. However, this misjudgment has had a significant impact on their own economies and trade.

For instance, South Korea's exports decreased 7.4 percent year-on-year in 2023, and it also recorded a trade deficit of $18 billion with China in 2023, its first such bilateral shortfall with China in 31 years, according to media reports.

Facing growing economic pressure and risks from following the US "decoupling" push, Japan and South Korea appear to be reassessing the significance of their relationships with China and are more inclined to enhance communication with China.

However, to achieve effective trilateral communication and cooperation, Japan and South Korea need not only to demonstrate sincerity in improving relations, but more importantly, the three parties need to find innovative ways to collaborate amid the US push for "decoupling" and "breaking chains," as failure to do so will result in consequences for all parties involved.

Enhancing mutual trust and promoting cooperation can only be achieved through the establishment of more frequent dialogue and communication mechanisms. In order to resist US pressure, China, Japan and South Korea could lessen their reliance on a single external market by enhancing cooperation within a multilateral framework. One way to achieve this is by expediting negotiations for the China-Japan-South Korea free trade agreement to broaden collaboration in trade, investment, technology exchanges and environmental protection. Additionally, cooperation could be bolstered within the ASEAN plus China, Japan and South Korea mechanism to promote the growth of the entire region.

In terms of mitigating risks, China, Japan and South Korea could focus on diversifying their supply chains by identifying alternative sources and improving the connectivity of their internal supply chains.

Additionally, they can address external pressures through policy coordination and information sharing, while also fostering cultural and talent exchanges to seek mutually beneficial solutions that uphold their respective national interests.

Moreover, the three can strengthen cooperation in some non-sensitive or non-strategic areas, such as environmental protection, climate change, renewable energy and public health.

Only by working together can the three countries achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. There is no alternative. Despite the challenges, it is crucial to resist the pressure by the US as a way to promote cooperation and avoid losses by the three parties. As East Asia remains the most vital engine of the global economy, the way in which these three countries collaborate will significantly influence global development.

China’s EHang completes passenger-carrying eVTOL demonstration flight in UAE

EHang Holdings, an autonomous aerial vehicle technology company based in China, announced on Monday that its pilotless electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft EH216-S successfully completed its first passenger-carrying demonstration flight in Abu Dhabi, marking the first of its kind in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Middle East. 

The EH216 series pilotless eVTOL aircraft performed several autonomous flights at the Emirates Falcons Aviation Club in Al Ali, Abu Dhabi with the approval by the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the UAE. 

"After obtaining approval for the demo flights carrying passengers and completing the inaugural flight, we will closely collaborate with the GCAA and the Civil Aviation Administration of China to accelerate the commercialization of our unmanned aircraft in the UAE. This will mark a significant milestone for Abu Dhabi and the global air mobility industry," Hu Huazhi, chief executive of EHang, was quoted as saying in a statement sent to the Global Times on Tuesday.

EHang's inaugural manned flight of the eVTOL in the UAE not only signifies the advancement of China's drone technology but also underscores growing international cooperation in the field of low-altitude economy.

China's low-altitude economy has been included in the new quality productive forces, according to the Government Work Report for 2024.

The EHang Intelligent EH216-S stands as the world's pioneering eVTOL aircraft to obtain all three certifications - Type Certificate (TC), Airworthiness Certificate (AC), and Production Certificate (PC). Capable of fully recharged within two hours, the EH216-S boasts a top speed of 130 kilometers per hour, with a flight endurance of 25 minutes and a designed range of 30 kilometers.

The pilotless eVTOL aircraft feature a compact fuselage, high redundancy design and intelligent cluster management, enabling safety and efficiency as well as scalable operations, in order to provide safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly air mobility.

Additionally, the EH216-F (for high-rise firefighting) and EH216-L (for aerial logistics) demonstrated their debut flights in the UAE too, showcasing a diverse range of UAM use scenarios of the pilotless eVTOL aircraft.

Generating clean power

A technician inspects an automated production line at a local new-energy technology company in Gaoyou city, East China's Jiangsu Province, on May 12, 2024. In recent years, Jiangsu has become a major production base of solar photovoltaic panels that sell well at home and abroad. Photo: VCG