China issues plan and preliminary results of anti-dumping probe into EU pork

China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) issued notice on Thursday, saying that investigating authorities will use a sampling method in anti-dumping probe into EU pork, while providing further details on the sampling plan and the preliminary sampling results for anti-dumping case involving pork and pig by-products from Europe.

Given the large number of EU exporters and Chinese domestic producers involved, a full investigation would overburden investigating authorities and prevent the timely completion of the investigation, according to a ministry notice. Therefore, in accordance with the relevant provisions of corresponding domestic rules and regulations, the investigative authority decided on the sampling approach.

Companies are selected for sampling based on their export quantities to China during the dumping investigation period, with the top three exporters in terms of export quantity selected, the notice read.

Based on initial sampling, the investigation identified the top three EU exporters by export volume during the investigation period. These exporters are Danish Crown A/S, VION Boxtel B.V., and LITERA MEAT S.L.U., have been instructed to complete a questionnaire within a specified timeframe.

The announcement came as the European Commission (EC), the executive body of the EU, announced to impose additional tariffs of up to 38.1 percent on electric vehicles (EVs) imported from China starting in July, which prompted harsh criticism from Chinese officials as well as industry and business groups. Chinese officials have repeatedly vowed to take all necessary measures to defend the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.

In a notice issued on June 17, MOFCOM said that the China Animal Agriculture Association on June 6, on behalf of the Chinese pork and pig by-products industry, submitted an application for an anti-dumping investigation into certain pork and pig by-products originating from the EU. After a review of the application, MOFCOM determined that it meets the requirements for launching an investigation in accordance with the relevant laws.

The probe will examine certain pork and pig by-products originating from the EU from January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023.

It will also investigate any damage done to domestic Chinese industry from between January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2023.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, the investigation agency selected the top 20 enterprises in terms of pig slaughter volume in the country in 2023 as sampling enterprises.

The total slaughter volume of the 24 sampled enterprises in 2023 was approximately 44.78 million pigs, accounting for 6.16 percent of the national pig slaughter volume last year.

The probe is expected to end before June 17, 2025, but may be extended for half a year under special circumstances.

"Starting from 2023, the EU's exports of certain pork and pig by-products to China have increased significantly, making it necessary to investigate pricing factors in accordance with WTO rules," Cui Hongjian, a professor from the Academy of Regional and Global Governance under Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times in a previous interview.

Chinese analysts said that the MOFCOM probe was launched at the request of the domestic industry in line with WTO rules, in stark contrast to the actions of the European Commission’s investigation, which was launched without an application from relevant domestic industry groups in the EU, while the investigation process was unfair, non-objective and in potential violation of WTO rules.

20th CPC Central Committee starts third plenary session

The 20th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) started its third plenary session in Beijing on Monday morning.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, delivered a work report on behalf of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and expounded on a draft decision of the CPC Central Committee on further comprehensively deepening reform and advancing Chinese modernization.

Manila urged to stop abusing arbitration, disrupting South China Sea

Despite the fallacies of the illegal South China Sea Arbitration Award released on July 12, 2016 being exposed, the Philippines continues to ignore the truth and instead celebrated the so-called "8th anniversary"of the illegal arbitration award with Western allies on Friday. Analysts called it a "political show" that is simply a way to perpetuate the "China threat" rhetoric and manipulate international perception in order to constrain China on the South China Sea issue.

Local media reported that the Philippines hosted an alleged "biggest-ever West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) conference" in Manila on July 12, which was attended by key military leaders, ambassadors and experts from the US, Australia, Canada, France, and Japan. 

The US and the EU have issued statements to express support for the illegal arbitral award, which violates China's sovereignty. 

In response to the statements, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said on Friday that the US selfishly refuses to accede to UNCLOS, and yet often lectures other countries on their implementation of UNCLOS. This is hypocrisy, double standard and selective application of international law. 

The US has gone back on its public commitments of not taking a position on sovereignty issues in the South China Sea. It encouraged the Philippines to launch the arbitration on the South China Sea, and blatantly released a statement to endorse the award. This is political manipulation aimed at using allies to destabilize the South China Sea and the region and advance the nefarious agenda of going after China, Lin said. 

With the concerted efforts of China and ASEAN members, the South China Sea has been generally stable. China will work with ASEAN members to keep the South China Sea peaceful and stable, and contribute to regional prosperity and development, the spokesperson said.  

Lin urged countries outside the region led by the US to earnestly respect these efforts, refrain from statements and actions that disrupt regional peace and stability, and stop being a troublemaker in the South China Sea. 

Experts are urging the Philippines to abandon the illusion of being a "winner" in the ruling and to stop relying on it to handle disputes. 

Scholars also stressed the importance of remaining vigilant against the Philippines potentially inviting additional external forces to meddle with the South China Sea issue, as this could heighten the risk of military conflicts.

Arbitration is a manipulated trap

Chinese institutes released a report on Thursday thoroughly outlining the fallacies of the South China Sea Arbitration Award and the damage it does to the international rule of law. It explains why the Philippines' claims are illegal, and why the arbitration award cannot be accepted.

The report pointed out that Nanhai Zhudao (South China Sea islands) are China's inherent territory, and that the Philippines' territorial claim over part of Nansha Qundao is groundless from the perspectives of both history and international law. 

Neither the international treaties that established the territorial boundaries of the Philippines nor the Philippine Constitution prior to 1997 included the Nansha Islands or Huangyan Island in the Philippine territory. For many years after the end of World War II, the US, an ally of the Philippines, recognized China's sovereignty over the Nansha Islands in diplomatic correspondence, applications for surveys, and notification of navigational overflight plans. Maps and books published by the US during the same period all recognized China's sovereignty over these islands in the South China Sea.

"With a well-recorded history and hard evidence, the Arbitration Award cannot give legitimacy to the Philippines' illegal claims in the South China Sea. Rather, it exposes the rogue logic of the Philippines as a thief shouting 'stop the thief'," Ding Duo, a deputy director of the Institute of Maritime Law and Policy at the China Institute for South China Sea Studies, told the Global Times. 

Backed by the Arbitration Award and a small number of non-regional countries, the Philippines calls white black and confuses right and wrong. The US has incited the Philippines and even showed it how to escalate tensions step by step with China. This is the main reason behind the growing tensions in the South China Sea, said the scholar. 

The Philippines and the US held a high-profile "commemoration" of the Arbitration Award, precisely demonstrating that the South China Sea arbitration case is a trap manipulated by the US, initiated by the Philippines, and carried out in collusion with the arbitral tribunal in the Hague, he argued.

Ding said that fallacies in the arbitration ruling regarding the interpretation of treaties, determination of facts, and acceptance of evidence have been widely questioned and criticized, and its political manipulation is truly obvious. 

Introducing external risks and chaos

As more extraterritorial countries have increased their military activities in the South China Sea and intensified unilateral actions to consolidate their vested interests, concerns are rising that the Philippines is introducing more external risks into the region.

Japan and the Philippines signed a defense agreement on Monday that allows the deployment of Japanese forces for joint drills in the Philippines, according to media reports. Furthermore, it is evident from the first ever US-Japan-Philippines trilateral summit held in Washington in April that a new military confrontation bloc is forming. 

The alliance and military cooperation between the three countries are strengthening, bringing risks into the entire South China Sea region in the Western Pacific, Wu Shicun, the chairman of the Huayang Research Center for Maritime Cooperation and Ocean Governance, told the Global Times. 

Meanwhile, the US has continued to strengthen its military activities on China's doorstep in the South China Sea and surrounding areas. A think tank report released in March revealed that the US heightened deployment of aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and bombers, holding intensified close-in reconnaissance operations, and holding joint exercises in 2023, which posed growing risks to China-US relations.

Following the US, Japan will become a new challenge and risk factor in the South China Sea. This will lower the threshold for the Japanese Self-Defense Forces to enter the South China Sea and Philippine military bases, providing great convenience for Japan to provide weapons, equipment, and training support to the Philippines. There is now a higher possibility of a new arms race and small-scale conflicts in the region, Wu warned.

In less than two years, the current Philippine government has nearly dismantled the good practices established over recent years for managing maritime differences and properly handling the South China Sea issue between China and the Philippines. The bilateral relationship, which had gradually emerged from the shadow of the illegal South China Sea arbitration ruling, now appears to have reset and is even regressing, Wu said.

In a previous exclusive interview with the Global Times, former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte expressed regret over the current Philippine government's approach and policies on the South China Sea issue. He said he felt "very sad" about the loss of the peace during his administration, and called for both countries to resolve disputes through peaceful dialogue.

China has a growing capability, with rock solid resolve, to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea, Ding stressed. "The countermeasures against the Philippines and the costs it has borne fully demonstrate that expecting China to accept a unilateral ruling under comprehensive pressure on the South China Sea issue is a fantasy. The Philippines will end up with swallowing the bitter consequences," said Ding.

China's state security authorities release case of using campus loans to force student to steal national secrets

China's Ministry of State Security (MSS) released on Friday a case involving a foreign spy intelligence agency using campus loans to pressure and threaten a student borrower through high-interest loans, violent debt collection, and intimidation in order to steal national secrets from China.

According to a microfilm released by MSS, An Yong, a photography student at a prestigious university, fell into financial distress after spending a large amount of money on high-end equipment.

An then applied for a 20,000 yuan ($2,753) campus loan with a high interest rate, which he failed to repay. As graduation approached, the lender, Li Ming, demanded An to work part-time to repay the debt, but An didn't realize that Li and his accomplices are agents of a foreign spy intelligence agency.

An's father is a staff member of a key scientific research unit in China, and has access to documents and subjects involving state secrets. The agents' goal was to use the campus loan to coerce An to go to his father's unit and take photos of sensitive documents, and by threatening their future and reputation, blackmailed An and his father into cooperating with them to steal state secrets.

However, the documents that An photographed did not involve confidential substance. An's father eventually chose to call the national security hotline to report the incident.

An's father took the initiative to report the situation and cooperated with An to assist the national security authorities in thwarting the illegal plot of foreign spies to steal state secrets, avoiding irreparable and significant losses. The national security authorities seriously criticized and educated An and his father, and did not pursue criminal liability against them.

According to MSS, a person who commits the crime of espionage and surrenders or shows meritorious conduct may be mitigated, alleviated or exempted from punishment, and shall be rewarded if he or she shows significant meritorious conduct.

Three new energy storage power stations in Nanjing incorporated into the state grid for the first time

The State Grid Corporation of China recently completed the grid connection of GCL-Xin, Banqiao, and Datang energy storage power stations in Nanjing, located in East China's Jiangsu Province. These three new energy storage power stations on the side of the power grid can increase the short-term emergency peak capacity by 200,000 kilowatts for the Nanjing power grid, meeting the daily electricity demand of 50,000 households. This will also improve the new energy consumption capacity, save 64,000 tons of standard coal consumption, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 200,000 tons per year, learned the Global Times.

"The energy storage station will charge during the low load period, discharge to the grid during the peak period, and participate in grid interaction through grid frequency modulation and providing emergency backup power supply. This will not only promote peak load shifting and valley filling of the power grid, relieving power tension in local areas during peak periods of winter and summer electricity consumption, but also ensure the safe, stable, and green operation of the power system," said Deng Xing, the development department director of State Grid Nanjing Power Supply Company.

Banqiao Energy Storage Power Station is crucial for ensuring peak summer power supply for the Nanjing West Ring Network in 2024. It can store 200,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity in a single charge, meeting the daily electricity demand of 25,000 households in the West Ring network during peak periods.

GCL Energy Storage Power Station, Banqiao Energy Storage Power Station, and Datang Energy Storage Power Station are the first power grid side energy storage power stations in Jiangning district, Yuhuatai district, and Lishui district of Nanjing, respectively. They utilize a lithium iron phosphate battery system, with one 110-kilovolt booster station and two 220-kilovolt booster stations built.

The State Grid Nanjing Power Supply Company has provided "one to one" guidance and "housekeeper" service for enterprises, conducting numerous field surveys to understand the construction progress. Additionally, they have collaborated with the Power Dispatch and Control Center of the State Grid Jiangsu Electric Power Co., Ltd. to study and optimize energy storage charging and discharging strategies to maximize the role of energy storage in peak load shifting and valley filling.

In the future, the State Grid Nanjing Power Supply Company plans to continue optimizing the service process of energy storage projects, improving efficiency in all aspects, creating more new demonstration projects for energy storage, and aiding in the promotion of green and low-carbon transformation and the construction of a new power system, the company said.

China reports 754 million domestic passenger trips made in the first 7 days of the 8-day National Day & Moon Festival holidays, up 78.9% year-on-year

A total of 754 million domestic passenger trips were made in China in the first seven days of the 8-day National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival  holidays, a year-on-year increase of 78.9%. Holiday tourism generated 668.1 billion yuan ($92.80 billion), up 132.6% year-on-year, official data showed on Friday.

At an altitude of 4,526 meters, China’s first ‘zero-altitude astronomical observation station’ successfully handed over

The high-altitude pressurized liable building independently developed and built by China Construction Third Engineering Bureau Co. Ltd, China's first "zero-altitude astronomical observation station," held a handover ceremony in the Kizilsu Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and was officially delivered for demonstration application, authorities confirmed recently.

"Zero-altitude building" refers to the use of pressurization and other technologies to adjust the indoor key human settlement environment indicators to the low altitude level in the plain area, so that the human body feels more comfortable. When used, the altitude inside the building can be set according to the needs of personnel and reduce the impact of altitude sickness.

The observatory is located near Muztagh Ata, the third highest peak of the West Kunlun Mountains in Akto county. It sits at an altitude of 4,526 meters, with a total construction area of approximately 150 square meters, capable of supporting scientific research, residential, and office functions.

The observation station is a scientific research pressurized building specially designed for plateau astronomical work in response to the needs of its cooperative organization, Beijing Normal University. It can increase the overall atmospheric pressure inside the building to one standard atmospheric pressure while solving the problems of low pressure and oxygen deficiency in the plateau.

The facility provides a comfortable and healthy environment for astronomers to work and live in high-altitude areas, lowering the risk of physiological damage caused by the plateau's extreme environment.

It is expected to support a new phase of rapid development in China's astronomical scientific research work, according to media reports.

Ancient DNA reveals who is in Spain’s ‘pit of bones’ cave

Neandertals hung out in what’s now northern Spain around 430,000 years ago, an analysis of ancient DNA suggests. That’s an earlier Neandertal presence in Europe, by at least 30,000 years, than many researchers had assumed.

Fragments of nuclear DNA from a tooth and partial leg bone discovered at Sima de los Huesos, a chamber deep inside a Spanish cave, resemble corresponding parts of a previously reassembled Neandertal genome, researchers say in a study published online March 14 in Nature.
Not much nuclear DNA survives in such ancient fossils, say paleogeneticist Matthias Meyer of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and his colleagues. Meyer’s group recovered DNA fragments covering a fraction of 1 percent of the newly recovered Neandertal tooth and leg genomes. Just enough DNA remained to enable comparisons with DNA of a Neandertal woman (SN: 1/25/14, p. 17) and a Denisovan woman (SN: 9/22/12, p. 5). Denisovans are considered close genetic cousins of Neandertals.

The early age for the new genetic finds challenges the idea that fossils from Sima de los Huesos, or pit of bones, come from a species called Homo heidelbergensis. Some researchers have suspected that by around 400,000 years ago, H. heidelbergensis gave rise to evolutionary precursors of both Neandertals and Homo sapiens.
An ancient genetic puzzle has also emerged at Sima de los Huesos. On one hand, nuclear DNA — which passes from both parents to their children — pegs the Spanish hominids as Neandertals. But mitochondrial DNA — typically inherited only from the mother — already extracted from one Sima de los Huesos fossil (SN: 12/28/13, p. 8) and described for a second fossil in the new study has more in common with Denisovans.

Denisovans lived in East Asia at least 44,000 years ago, but their evolutionary history is unknown.

If early Neandertals lived in northern Spain roughly 430,000 years ago, “we have to go back further in time to reach the common ancestor of Neandertals and Denisovans,” Meyer says.
The new genetic data from Sima de los Huesos now suggest that Denisovans split from Neandertals perhaps 450,000 years ago, says paleoanthropologist Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London. Genetic and fossil evidence point to Neandertals and H. sapiens diverging from a common ancestor around 650,000 years ago, he proposes.

But it’s hard to say whether that common ancestor was H. heidelbergensis, Stringer adds. “Research must refocus on fossils from 400,000 to 800,000 years ago to determine which ones might lie on ancestral lineages of Neandertals, Denisovans and modern humans.”

Hominids throughout Eurasia during that time may have shared a mitochondrial DNA pattern observed in Sima de los Huesos Neandertals and Asian Denisovans, Meyer suggests. If that was the case, Neandertals acquired a new form of mitochondrial DNA by interbreeding with modern humans or their direct ancestors from Africa sometime between 430,000 and 100,000 years ago (SN: 3/19/16, p. 6).

Another possibility is that Neandertals traveled to Europe from Asia more than 430,000 years ago, carrying Denisovan mitochondrial DNA with them, says paleogeneticist Carles Lalueza-Fox of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona. Or hybrid descendants of early Neandertals and early Denisovans may have lived at Sima de los Huesos, carrying Denisovan mitochondrial DNA, he speculates.

“We really need more genetic data from Sima de los Huesos, and other sites of that age, to narrow down these scenarios,” Meyer says.

Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’ resurrects giant extinct ape

In the 1967 animated Disney film The Jungle Book, the feral boy Mowgli encounters a jazz-singing orangutan named King Louie, who implores Mowgli to teach him the secret of fire. King Louie presented a challenge for the producers of Disney’s live-action, CGI-enhanced remake of the film, opening April 15. “We had this notion that we would be as authentic as we could be to the region,” says producer Brigham Taylor. The problem: Orangutans are not native to India.
In fact, King Louie himself is not native to Rudyard Kipling’s original stories. But instead of scrapping the character, the filmmakers got creative. While researching India’s wildlife, the film’s art department learned that a colossal ape named Gigantopithecus once roamed the region. Various species of Gigantopithecus lived in India, China and Southeast Asia from about 6.5 million years ago until as recently as a few hundred thousand years ago. The ape was truly gigantic — by some estimates, twice as big as a gorilla.

So King Louie morphed from orangutan to Gigantopithecus. The switch was a “fun justification,” Taylor says, to keep the character and play up his size while still staying true to India’s fauna. (Yes, the ape is extinct, but this is a movie about talking animals. And fossil evidence does suggest that the ape at least mingled with the human ancestor Homo erectus.)

Using the scientific information they could find on the Internet, visual effects artists imagined how the animal would look and move, Taylor says. The result: an ape that resembles an overgrown orangutan, Gigantopithecus’ closest living relative. The movie ape has shaggy hair, flaring cheeks and a saggy pouch that hangs from the throat like a double chin — and towers about 12 feet tall.
It’s difficult to judge how accurate Disney’s rendering is. Despite possibly having been the largest primate ever to have lived, Gigantopithecus
left behind few fossils. Scientists have just four lower jaws and over a thousand teeth, says biological anthropologist Russell Ciochon of the University of Iowa. That’s not much to go on, but Ciochon and colleagues made their own reconstruction a couple decades ago.
The researchers took a jaw from China and made an outline of a skull that could fit such a jaw. Because most primate skulls scale to body size, Ciochon says, his group could estimate Gigantopithecus’ weight, 800 to 900 pounds, and height, about 9 feet from head to toe. (The species that lived in India was actually probably smaller.) Adding other details like hair to the animal is a matter of conjecture, Ciochon says.

But the teeth do offer some solid details about the ape’s lifestyle. Wear patterns and microscopic debris stuck to the teeth indicate Gigantopithecus dined on fruits, leaves, shoots, roots and perhaps even bamboo. Last year, researchers confirmed those details after analyzing the ratios of carbon isotopes in teeth found in Southeast Asia. The analysis also determined that Gigantopithecus was a strict forest dweller, even though it also lived near grasslands in some areas. In fact, the researchers contend, Gigantopithecus’ reliance on forests and its big size — and therefore big appetite — may have been the animal’s undoing. As Southeast Asia’s jungles gave way to expanding grasslands during the last glacial period, Gigantopithecus may have been unable to cope.

Perhaps if our ancestors had shared the secret of fire with Gigantopithecus, the giant ape would still be around today.