China’s services sector in Dec expands at fastest pace in five months with private Caixin PMI rising to 52.9

China's services sector continued to revive in December 2023 as its yearlong recovery kept on going, a survey showed on Thursday. The Caixin services purchasing managers' index (PMI) - a private gauge - expanded at the quickest pace in five months in December to 52.9 from 51.5 in November.

The Caixin PMI surveys cover mostly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and private-sector companies. The rebound in both the services PMI and the manufacturing PMI demonstrates a continuous pickup for companies at the midstream and downstream of industry chains, and the strong momentum will persist in 2024, analysts said.

The rise in the services PMI for December was the quickest since July, an accompanying press release showed. Companies signaled a solid increase in activity and new business, with the expansion of new business at the quickest pace since May.

The gauge remained in expansion territory throughout all of 2023, signaling a sustained recovery in the services sector, Wang Zhe, senior economist at Caixin Insight Group, was quoted as saying in the press release. A reading below 50 indicates contraction, while one above 50 indicates expansion.

Wang said that both supply and demand expanded, while external demand continued its upward trajectory for the fourth consecutive month with the reading hitting the highest level since June.

SMEs are the major participants of the services sector with a relatively strong market dynamic. The continuous growth of the services PMI indicated that the recovery of the country's economy, especially the services sector, has been keeping pace, Cong Yi, a professor at the Tianjin School of Administration, told the Global Times on Thursday.

The continued growth for the PMI reading also showed market demand has been bouncing back as the services sector is the closest to the market, Cong said.

The rebound in both the services and manufacturing PMIs showed that the midstream and downstream of the country's industry chain has continued recovering, Hu Qimu, a deputy secretary-general of the digital-real economies integration Forum 50, told the Global Times on Thursday.

The manufacturing PMI for December, which was released earlier this week, hit a four-month high at 50.8.

The positive figures show that the private sector is making progress, flagging a revival for the market mechanism, Hu said. Market players are willing to rebuild their inventories, representing a further recovery of the country's economic fundamentals.

The consumption boom with bustling travel and spending during the just-concluded New Year's Day holidays was the latest example of the recovery.

During the three-day holidays, a total of 135 million domestic tourist trips were made, up 155.3 percent year-on-year, and total domestic tourism revenue reached 79.73 billion yuan ($11.22 billion), jumping 200.7 percent from the same period in 2023 and 5.6 percent from 2019 before the pandemic, data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism showed.

Transitioning into 2024, experts are optimistic that fresh momentum will emerge amid favorable conditions and support.

"Optimism prevails in the services industry, with enterprises expressing confidence in an improved economic outlook for the coming year. This sentiment was reflected in the gauge for businesses' expectations about future activity, " Wang said.

Hu said that some concerns such as systemic risks related to the real estate sector and local debt have been eliminated, and further macro policies will be rolled out and will produce effects.

Amid the sustained recovery, experts said that challenges linger. For instance, Cong said that companies still face pressure from operating costs and uncertain external demand. More stimulus is likely to be rolled out, he said.

Favorable conditions outweigh unfavorable factors in China's development, and the fundamental trend of the economic recovery and long-term positive outlook has not changed, noted the Central Economic Work Conference, which concluded in December, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The December meeting called for efforts to pursue progress while ensuring stability, consolidate stability through progress, and establish the new before abolishing the old, regarding the economic work for 2024.

Chinese operating systems to see explosive growth as US crackdown speeds up self-reliance process: experts

Domestic operating systems (OS) are set for an explosive growth in 2024, as the sector's self-reliance efforts show effectiveness amid the intensified US crackdown, industry observers said, and the coming of the Internet of Everything era, where Chinese firms have an advantage, will bolster that trend.

Huawei's HarmonyOS will be one of the main OS to lead that growth, and it will take share away from foreign counterparts, they said.

According to a report by TechInsights, Huawei's HarmonyOS is projected to surpass Apple's iOS as the second-biggest OS in China. The report suggests that HarmonyOS is poised to achieve a milestone in 2024 with the commercial launch of the HarmonyOS NEXT, a revised version that is not compatible with Android.

Despite Huawei's previous challenges related to the supply constraints of the Kirin 9000s chipset, TechInsights anticipates a potential easing of these limitations in the coming months. This could lead to a solid recovery for Huawei in 2024, reshuffling the landscape of the Chinese smartphone OS market and challenging both Apple and Android manufacturers for their market shares.

"The past year was extraordinary and marked the beginning of native HarmonyOS applications. Today, on the first day of 2024, we are entering a crucial year for the comprehensive evolution of the HarmonyOS ecosystem," He Gang, chief operating officer of Huawei Consumer Business Group, said on Monday.

The Shenzhen-based telecoms giant launched HarmonyOS in August 2019, three months after Google stopped providing its suite of proprietary mobile software services to the company due to US sanctions.

Rather than being a replacement, the company stressed that the OS can also be deployed across multiple devices, including smartphones, computers and other electronic devices.

"The HarmonyOS was designed for the Internet of Everything era. It was launched earlier than expected in 2019 due to the US sanctions, but it also helped the OS gain an early foothold in the highly competitive domestic market," Ma Jihua, a veteran industry analyst and close follower of the company, told the Global Times on Thursday.

The ecosystem of HarmonyOS has gradually taken shape after years of development, spanning all walks of life including transportation, social networking, gaming, office productivity, shopping, lifestyle uses and education, Ma said.

In recent months, several major domestic internet companies and leading enterprises including financial technology giant Ant Group, e-commerce firm, video gaming giant NetEase and food delivery market leader Meituan have announced plans to build new versions of their mobile apps based on HarmonyOS.

On December 6, 2023, McDonald's China and Huawei reached a cooperation agreement, officially announcing that the McDonald's China app will adopt the HarmonyOS NEXT, making it one of the first global multinational chain restaurants to join the ecosystem, McDonald's China said in a statement it sent to the Global Times on Thursday.

Apart from Huawei's HarmonyOS, 2024 is poised to be a breakthrough period for the development of domestic OS in China, Zhang Hong, a Beijing-based industry analyst, told the Global Times on Thursday.

One of the main reasons for this development is that the intensified restrictions imposed by the US will accelerate the process of localization in China, placing a dual emphasis on security and development. This trend has spurred a concerted effort to reduce dependence on foreign technologies and foster the growth of Chinese alternatives, Zhang said.

Moreover, the rapid development and usage of smart devices in the nation is expected to enable Chinese companies to further outpace their global counterparts in the Internet of Everything era, Ma said.

Hong Kong in calm atmosphere as over 1.19 million Hong Kong residents cast their votes in District Council Election

Hong Kong residents began lining up in front of polling stations across the city early on Sunday morning as the city kicked off its first large-scale election since the introduction of new electoral reforms, which requires that only patriots can administer the city. Over 1 million voters had cast their votes, equal to a turnout of 24.53 percent as of 19:30 pm.

The 7th District Council (DC) Election is selecting 176 district councilors from district committees and 88 local district councilors from a pool of 399 candidates. Over 600 polling stations were set up across the city to serve about 4.33 million electors, and a total of 18 District Committees constituency polling stations for constituency voters. 

A number of candidates, voters and Hong Kong analysts told the Global Times on the voting day that the election was fiercely competitive and "very colorful." Because every candidate has to be a patriot, it is believed this election will have a positive impact on Hong Kong's future and its governance. 

Vote for better community

At about 8 am on Sunday, Global Times reporters visited several polling stations located on Robinson Road in Hong Kong Island, Yau Ma Tei in Kowloon and other places, seeing that the staff at the polling stations were already ready and waiting at the entrances to the polling stations. 

Large and small signboards and posters for the District Council election were hung up everywhere to guide voters. There were also staff outside the polling station to assist the elderly or other voters in need. Before voting officially started at 8:30 am, voters were already waiting outside the polling station.

At around 9:15 am on Sunday, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Chief Executive John Lee and his wife Janet Lee Lam cast their votes at the polling station at 2 Robinson Road, Raimondi College. 

This year's DC election is of great significance because the district council was hijacked in the past and some district council members openly advocated "Hong Kong independence" and did things that endangered national security, Lee said at a press briefing shortly after he cast his vote. 

"As we improve district governance, the purpose of the entire plan is to return the district council to its original intention, which is to be a non-political organization with patriots' participation as our district councilors and will not betray national interests, Hong Kong interests, and regional interests," Lee said. 

Therefore, everyone must take this DC election seriously, make good use of your vote, and elect a district councilor who, first, loves the country and loves Hong Kong; second, is a district councilor who will serve you well, Lee said, calling on the public to cast their votes on Sunday. 

Lee also noted that under the new electoral system, the government also has a duty performance monitoring system to ensure that the elected district councilors will be competent, meet the needs of the public and achieve the expected work levels.

The restructured DC will be a DC that implements the principle of "only patriots administering Hong Kong." It is the last piece of the puzzle for us to implement this principle and ensure that the entire governance system of Hong Kong complies with the requirements of One Country, Two Systems, Lee said. 

Michael Ngai, a Hong Kong entrepreneur, arrived at the polling station early in the morning and lined up. After voting, he told the Global Times that he was very happy to see that people from different backgrounds and political parties could become candidates in this election. 

"I'm even more happy that all the candidates this time were patriotic, holding the same ideals and having good intentions to serve society," he said, noting that the candidates' professional abilities and their experience and achievements in serving society in the past few years are the basis for choosing whom to vote for.

A major difference for the DC election this year compared to that in 2019 is that candidates are running for the public good now rather than using the DC to push a political agenda, a 46-year-old local resident surnamed Chan told the Global Times at the polling station in Yaumatei Catholic Primary School on Sunday morning, adding that "We hope that they will work to solve our problems and difficulties in the community."

The DC election in 2019 was described as the most chaotic and dangerous election in Hong Kong's history, as some polling stations were encircled by anti-government forces and rioters attacked ordinary residents who voted for pro-establishment candidates. The offices of almost all patriotic candidates were destroyed and set on fire by rioters, and their families and volunteers were targeted or even attacked. 

However, local authorities have not relaxed their vigilance on this year's voting day. The Global Times reporters noticed there were police patrolled outside multiple polling stations to prevent potential disruptive incidents. 

According to local media reports, during the DC election, more than 10,000 police officers were to be dispatched to polling stations, important infrastructure and crowded places across Hong Kong. Each polling station had at least two police officers stationed there. In addition, the anti-terrorism special service team were reportedly conducted "high-profile anti-terrorism patrols" in densely populated areas to prepare for all incidents.

The computer system at polling stations across Hong Kong malfunctioned on Sunday evening, as the electronic voter registration system became temporarily unavailable. Long queues were seen outside the polling stations at some districts due to the malfunction. The Electoral Affairs Commission announced around 10 pm an extension of the voting deadline to the midnight.

Significant election

This DC election is an important part of implementing "only patriots administering Hong Kong" and reshaping Hong Kong's political order and governance structure, Lau Siu-kai, a consultant from the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies who is also a senior policy advisor, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

Patriotic groups and individuals have actively participated, and the competition was fierce. In particular, the active participation of many young people with higher academic qualifications was eye-catching, Lau said. 

Before the election, the HKSAR government and patriotic groups actively invested [resources] in publicity and mobilization work, showing "unprecedented unity and cooperation," Lau said. "I believe this will have a positive significance for Hong Kong's future good governance and the stability and long-term implementation of One Country, Two Systems, he added. 

In response to some foreign media's descriptions of this election such as "just a show" or "marginalizing opposition figures," Lau said that a "colorful election" refers to the "colorful colors within the patriotic camp," and does not necessarily have to include candidates who do not accept Hong Kong's new policies. 

Only those who belong to the political order can be considered "colorful" by running for election. From this perspective, the candidates for this election come from different professions, backgrounds and groups, and are indeed quite diverse, he said. 

Over the past few days, the Global Times found that during this DC election, there was indeed fierce competition among different candidates, but at the same time the atmosphere was harmonious, completely different from the 2019 DC election, which was rife with mutual abuse, criticism and serious social confrontation. The main competition now is about "political platform" and their ability to serve the community.

Taking the most competitive Wan Chai constituency as an example, it is surprising that several "competing" candidates met together to canvass for votes on the streets. 

"This DC election is much more intense than the previous term, or even every term," Jeff Wong Sau-tung, a candidate from the district, told the Global Times. 

All candidates are working hard to improve residents' lives, he said. For example, he is committed to work to solve the rat problem in Wan Chai and add more bus lines to the area. 

Another candidate, Nicholas Muk Ka-chun, told the Global Times that in 2019, some candidates did not appear in the community at all on weekdays, but most of the candidates this time have rich service experience in order to win public support. For example, he began to actively participate in the community's anti-epidemic work and distributed supplies to local people in 2020.

The turnout is the focus of attention from all walks of life. In order to encourage more people to vote, in recent days, many officials of the HKSAR government and many celebrities from Hong Kong's political and business circles have come to the streets, restaurants and buildings to distribute leaflets and cheer for the candidates. 

The composition, voter base and voting system of this DC election are different from those of the 2019 District Council election. Therefore, it is not appropriate to directly compare the cumulative turnout rates of the two elections, David Lok, chairman of the Electoral Affairs Commission, told reporters at the polling station in Yaumatei. 

He also said he was confident the election would be conducted in an open, honest, and fair manner, and that the polling and counting of votes would be smooth and completed within a reasonable time.

The turnout in the first four hours was considered to be good. If the overall turnout rate is similar to the voting in the 2021 Legislative Council (LegCo) election, it would be a relatively satisfactory result, former LegCo president Jasper Tsang told reporters on Sunday. 

The social atmosphere in this DC election is completely different from that in 2019. At that time, there was "smoke of wars everywhere" and some people said they were afraid to come out to vote. Now the social atmosphere is peaceful, which is conducive for voters to be willing to come out to vote, Tsang added.  

"The level of voting turnout is not an important indicator to measure the effectiveness of the new election. What is more important is to see the impact of the DC reform on Hong Kong's political stability, governance efficiency, regional governance level and other aspects," Lau said. 

At this stage, opposition forces and their supporters still account for a large number of Hong Kong voters. Opposition forces are not eligible to run because they do not meet the standards of "patriots administering Hong Kong," and the above-mentioned people are resistant to Hong Kong's new political structure. It is not surprising that they adopt a passive boycott of this election, he said. 

However, the expert believes that judging from local elections in other countries around the world and Hong Kong's past DC elections under normal circumstances, it is a good result if the turnout rate is no lower than 25 percent. 

"As patriotic forces continue to grow and Hong Kong's governance gradually achieves results, I believe that the turnout in DC elections will increase in the future," he said. 

Update: Beijing hospital worker detained for leaking actress Kathy Chow’s medical records

Actress Kathy Chow Hoi-mei has died at the age of 57 due to an illness, Chow's studio announced on Tuesday. Netizens were angered by the leak of a screenshot of an electronic medical record believed to have belonged to Chow, allegedly from a hospital in Beijing's Shunyi district. They called for greater respect for the deceased and expressed anger over the leak.

The public security bureau in Shunyi district announced on Thursday that a 36-year-old male suspect surnamed Fu has been placed under administrative detention after he took advantage of his job at a hospital in Shunyi and released a screenshot of a patient’s medical record to WeChat group on Monday for the purpose of showing off, leading to the spread of personal information and creating a bad social impact. 

Fu and the hospital involved will possibly face multiple penalties according to the health administrative punishment rules of Beijing municipality which were revised in January of 2023. 

The hospital may be issued a warning and receive a penalty between 10,000 yuan ($1,394) and 50,000 yuan. The punishment will be publicized for 12 months or longer. Doctors and nurses involved may face suspension or have their medical licenses revoked under severe circumstances. 

The Shunyi district health authority said that it had noticed the situation and an investigation is underway, media reports said on Wednesday. The screenshot of the medical record went viral online on Tuesday night, showing Chow's personal information, treatment time, and other related information, according to media reports.

The results of the investigation will be announced to the public in due course, said the report, citing an employee from the health authority. The police have also started to investigate, according to media reports.

An insider said that two suspects have been handed over to the police, one of whom is an employee at the hospital involved and the other is the employee's friend. The employee has been suspended from work and the hospital is waiting for the result of the police investigation, The Beijing News reported.

The exposure of the medical record caused outrage among many netizens, who expressed their anger: "She has already passed away, and her privacy is being exposed in such a naked manner!" "This is so unethical!" "It disrespects the privacy of the deceased!"

Some netizens asked who could have released the medical record and queried whether it violated laws and regulations.

"I didn't look at it. I hope the relevant medical department will investigate the case. This is a violation of patient privacy," one netizen wrote.

China's top health authority issued a special action plan for patient safety (2023-25) in September, emphasizing the importance of information security and prevention of data leakage, destruction, and loss. It is strictly prohibited for anyone to provide patient diagnosis and treatment information to others or other institutions without authorization.

Chow was a highly talented actress noted for many iconic roles throughout her acting career. The roles that are unforgettable for the post-80s generation include her portrayal of Zhou Zhiruo, one of the lead characters in the wuxia novel The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber, by famous Chinese martial arts novelist Louis Cha Leung-yung, more widely known by his pen name Jin Yong.

Chow's talent and dedication to her career made her a respected figure in the industry, and her most famous roles are still cherished by her fans. Chow's passing has been a trending topic on Sina Weibo since Tuesday, with fans and netizens expressing their shock and sadness over her sudden death. Many shared their favorite memories of the actress. Chow's Weibo account has nearly 1 million fans.

Various actors, including her ex-husband Raymond Lui Leung-wai, also paid tribute to her. "I can't calm down for a long time after hearing this news. Thank you for bringing so much beauty to the world. May you continue to laugh in another world," Lui wrote via Weibo.

Temperatures plunge to historic lows as severe cold fronts impact most of China

Severe cold fronts have extended their grip over the majority of China, sending temperatures plunging below freezing and breaking historic extreme low records in multiple places, prompting authorities to deploy preventive arrangements to deal with possible extreme situations.

While experts reminded the public to take preventive measures to protect themselves as well as livestock as some places recorded temperatures below -40 C, they also assured the public there was no need to panic since China has strong capability to cope with extreme weather emergencies.

The past weekend was the coldest in the latter part of the year for a vast area of the country, with 23 provincial capital cities seeing record low temperatures since November, according to

The temperature difference between the highs and lows recorded at meteorological stations across China reached 76 C on Saturday, with the highest temperature of 31.8 C recorded in Baoting in South China's Hainan Province and the lowest of -44.2 C recorded in Tulihe township of Yakeshi city in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

A total of 30 national-level meteorological stations in multiple provinces and cities such as Hebei, Shanxi, Beijing, Tianjin and Liaoning, recorded historic extreme low temperatures for December on Sunday morning, with five stations in Shanxi, Hebei and Liaoning seeing new records since their establishment.

On Sunday, China's capital Beijing also suffered the coldest day of the winter season at -15.5 C. It was the third lowest temperature for the period since 1951, when China started collecting complete and continuous meteorological observation data.

As of 8 am in Beijing, 14 of 20 national meteorological stations saw new records for extreme low temperatures for mid-December.

Over the past few days, snowfalls have swept through the Taklimakan Desert, China's largest desert, in the Tarim Basin in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, covering the sand dunes under a "white coat."

Temperatures in some places in South China's Guangdong Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region plunged 12 to 16 C in one day, leading to freezing rain and roads.

Affected by heavy snow, on Thursday evening, a subway train along the Changping Line in Beijing collided with the rear of a preceding train that had made an emergency stop, resulting in a separation of carriages, according to the preliminary investigation into the accident. A total of 102 people suffered fractures with no fatalities, authorities said on Friday.

In the wake of the accident, the national commission for disaster prevention, reduction and relief in a notification on Sunday urged authorities to strengthen patrols and control of key road sections, inspections of subways, overpasses, underpasses, and roads prone to freezing and accidents to effectively prevent accidents.

Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said that these cold waves have caused a vast area of snowfall, which will have a huge impact on the buildings, traffic and other infrastructure facilities that may affect the normal production and life orders in cities. Besides this, the snow can reflect sunlight and further slower warming during the day.

Especially in areas with extreme cold weather, such as in Inner Mongolia and Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province where temperatures below -40 C have been recorded, great caution should be taken to keep people and livestock warm and prevent damage from freezing, Ma told the Global Times on Sunday.

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Guoqing, who is also director of the national commission for disaster prevention, reduction and relief, has required related departments to hold "red-line thinking" and "extreme thinking" to address possible extreme situations.

In a separate notification on Sunday, the commission called for all-out effort to be deployed to prevent and respond to low-temperature, rain, snow and freezing disasters. It emphasized that departments should establish complete emergency command systems to combat extreme weather, strengthen monitoring, warning, and analysis of weather patterns.

The commission said that there is an emergency dispatching mechanism for various energy sources to complement each other and carry out cross-provincial and cross-regional energy dispatching to ensure a steady and orderly supply and demand of energy across the country.

While the impact of this round of cold fronts has basically concluded, a new wave is predicted to sweep from the north toward the south from Monday to Wednesday that will affect the middle and eastern parts of the country, keeping the temperatures in the majority of the country at low levels next week, according to the China's National Meteorological Center (NMC).

It is expected that the lowest temperatures in Beijing will remain below -14 C through Thursday and that temperatures will remain below freezing throughout the following two weeks.

In Northeast China's Jilin Province, it is expected that temperatures in the eastern part of the province, the majority of Tonghua city, Baishan city, and Changbai Mountain National Nature Reserve will drop to -32 C, with some parts in the province even dropping to -35 C on Sunday and Monday.

Besides snow storms, the NMC has also forecast rainfall in multiple places, including the northern part of the Xinjiang region, the Jianghuai and Jiangnan regions and southern China.

China releases the first list of 789 important habitats for terrestrial wildlife animals to strengthen protection

China has recently released the first list of 789 important habitats for terrestrial wildlife animals in a bid to strengthen the protection of terrestrial wildlife populations and their habitats. The list covers 82.36 percent national key protected terrestrial wildlife species, according to China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA). 

Based on the importance of the terrestrial wildlife species in China, their population sizes, the significance of their habitat locations, and their special representativeness, the first list of important habitats for terrestrial wildlife is divided into six categories, including the survival and breeding area for rare and endangered species, as well as the distribution areas for wildlife clusters.  

These areas are spread across 31 provinces, regions and municipalities, covering the habitats, breeding grounds and migratory sites of 565 species of the national first- and second-class key protected wildlife animals including 127 mammal species, 339 bird species, 62 amphibian and reptile species, and 37 insect species.

According to the requirements under China’s Wildlife Protection Law that strengthens the protection of important wildlife habitats, the NFGA organized experts to collect the information and data of China’s wildlife resources obtained from the surveys conducted over the past two decades. 

The experts classified and sorted out the characteristics of the species’ natural distributions, population dynamics, and biological habits of the wildlife animals in China, and formulated the interim measures for the identification of important habitats for terrestrial wildlife animals. The interim measures determine the technical specifications for identification criteria, assessment procedures, file information, demarcation of scope and naming rules for important habitats of terrestrial wildlife. 

Through detailed analysis and evaluation, the first batch of important habitats for terrestrial wildlife was selected. Moving forward, the NFGA will further strengthen investigation, monitoring and assessment of areas where habitat conditions have continued to improve but have not been included in the list, and successively include those meet the relevant criteria into the list. 

In recent years, China has established a natural protected area system focused on the country’s national parks using nature reserves as its foundation and various natural parks as secondary sites.

This system has incorporated a large number of wildlife habitats into protected areas, ensuring the protection of wildlife habitats and promoting their continuous optimization. It has played a significant role in rescuing precious endangered wildlife and maintaining the development of wildlife populations. 

Cleaner energy

The first million-kilowatt-level offshore wind power project in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area goes into operation in Huizhou, South China's Guangdong Province, on December 12, 2023. The project can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 2.35 million tons per year, equivalent to reforestation of 6,750 hectares. Photo: VCG

Immersive experience exhibition displaying the art of grottoes held at the National Museum of China

Editor's Note:

An exhibition themed “Magnificence and Grandeur - Immersive Experience of Grotto Art” was open to the public at the National Museum of China on Saturday. The exhibition covers an area of approximately 1,500 square meters. Combining digital drawing, digital 3D mapping images and AI algorithm technology, artists present the rich meaning of the grottoes including Kizil Caves, Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes, Maijishan Grottoes, Yungang Grottoes and Longmen Grottoes. Photos: Li Hao/GT

Historic city writes new chapter in world’s youth engagement

While the world still remembers the big snowflake from the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the Golden Sun Bird, logo of China Culture Heritage which symbolizes light, strength and hope, hovering over the main stadium of Dong'an Lake Sports Park at the opening ceremony of the FISU World University Games once again amazed a global audience. 

With the fireworks of Chengdu city flower hibiscus blossoming in the air, the 31st World University Summer Games opened in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan province, on Friday. The historic city has added a fresh youthful imprint and wrote a new chapter in the world's youth engagement and exchanges.

Golden main stage, sun circle screen... In this grand event, "sunshine" was a creative element throughout the proceeding. With the theme of "Make dreams come true," the Chengdu World University Games strives to present a sunny opening ceremony to the world, showing the joy and style of young college students from all over the world gathering in Chengdu, bathing in the sunshine and accomplishing their dreams. It also calls on university students around the world to promote the realization of the common aspiration for peace and development of all mankind and to realize the common dream of building a global community with a shared future.

Guided by signboards made of Shu embroidery, university athletes entered the stadium. Colorful silk threads were projected onto the runway, forming a weaving "Silk Road," representing the bright future of the participating college athletes and the youth from all over the world.

The opening ceremony is centered on college students, reflecting the values of friendship, fraternity, fair play, perseverance, integrity, cooperation and application championed by FISU. During the athletes' entrance, a college student band performed live classical music from five continents, expressing their respect and love for the cultures and arts of all countries in the world, reflecting cultural exchanges, friendship and inner resonance.

Among the cast and volunteers of the opening ceremony, 99 percent of participants were college students, marking the start of one of the world's premier sporting events for young people.

China eyes Paris Olympics berth at FIBA Basketball World Cup

China's men's basketball team looks to secure a berth at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games at the basketball World Cup. Tipping off on Friday in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia, this is the first time the global showpiece will be hosted by multiple nations.

A total of 32 teams, divided into eight groups of four, will fight for the coveted Naismith Trophy. The top two teams of each group will qualify for the second round, while the bottom two teams will play in the classification round for 17-32 places.

Teams also set their sights on securing a spot at the Paris Olympic Games, with seven tickets at stake in this World Cup and distributed to the best teams per continent.

China eyes to finish the tournament with the best result among Asian teams, so as to book the only ticket allocated to Asia for the Paris Games. 

China will open their campaign against hot favorites Serbia on Saturday before squaring up against debutants South Sudan on Monday. In the last group game on Wednesday, China will meet world No.20 Puerto Rico.

It's exciting to see how naturalized forward Li Kai'er makes a difference in the rebuilt Chinese team. 

Zhou He, a Beijing-based basketball commentator, told the Global Times that it will be difficult for China to secure a spot for the Paris Games via this World Cup.

"There is a big gap in strength between China and the European teams. This is a good opportunity for the young players to gain experience and grow, such as the promising forwards Cui Yongxi and Zhang Zhenlin," Zhou said.

Despite the absence of ace center Nikola Jokic, Serbia has been one of the most formidable forces in Europe and is clear favorites to win the group. The real intrigue lies over which team can progress along with them.

Regular presence Puerto Rico is a tall order for China to handle, while South Sudan has been enjoying a purple patch after earning their maiden World Cup appearance by winning 11 of 12 qualifying games.

Zhou said China cannot pin all its hopes on a single player - the 29-year-old Li, who averaged 9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 1.1 steals per game while with the NBA franchise Minnesota Timberwolves. 

"We can see from the role he plays in the NBA that he does a bit of everything like three pointers, rebounds and playmaking. But we can't expect him to take over playmaking duties the whole game and he's not a big-time scorer," Zhou noted. 

"In difficult moments, other players are required to step up and help the team."

In the warm-up games prior to the world cup, Li has been trying to integrate into the team. China's head coach Aleksandar Djordjevic from Serbia said Li is still working hard to get to his maximum.

Among the top 30 stars to watch in this tournament, as listed by the world's basketball governing body FIBA, Li is ranked No.27. 

"It will be intriguing to see how the wiry forward steps into a bigger role for China. Li's strengths as a somewhat position-less forward who plays at his own pace and brings the best out of his teammates will make up an interesting duo with Zhou Qi at center," said FIBA.