Journey of two generations of US, China scholars in locating Chinese garden nurtures flower of friendship

One day in the 1950s, in the dimly lit hall of a museum in the US, young James Cahill saw the Zhi Garden Album for the first time.
The album from 17th-century China depicts a Chinese garden called Zhi with extraordinary realistic brushwork, which was uncommon in classical Chinese paintings. Almost every detail of the Zhi Garden was captured by the artist, revealing to Cahill an exquisite, yet unfamiliar Eastern-style beauty.

Cahill's eyes and heart were captured. This US student in Chinese art, who later became a famous art historian and one of the world's foremost scholars of Chinese painting, started his decades-long journey in search of the real Zhi Garden. For half a century, he visited China several times, and mentioned the Zhi Garden in his books and on many academic occasions, but never got concrete information about this mysterious garden.

Did this remote Chinese garden really exist, or was it just a Xanadu on paper? The question has long gnawed at Cahill's mind.

One summer day in 2010, on the other side of the globe, two Chinese students studying landscape architecture wrote an email to the then 84-year-old Cahill. This email, which shared the exciting news of the Zhi Garden's probable existence, was the very beginning of a beautiful story that saw Chinese and US scholars make joint efforts to discover and study the Zhi Garden, leading to their lasting friendship.

A dialogue across time and space

This 2010 email was sent by Liu Shanshan and Huang Xiao, who were then students of renowned Chinese professor of architecture Cao Xun.

In 2009, Cao came across the Zhi Garden Collection at the National Library of China, a book of poems and essays written by Wu Liang, a garden artist in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Through careful study, Cao became certain that Wu was the owner of the Zhi Garden, and the garden was most likely located in Wu's hometown in present-day Changzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province.

Under Cao's encouragement, Liu and Huang wrote an email to Cahill. They shared with Cahill that they might have found the owner and the possible location of the Zhi Garden, and asked him about the images of the Zhi Garden Album

Cahill's fast response surprised Liu and Huang. "We emailed him at around 10 pm Beijing time, and the next morning we found that he had replied," recalled Liu, who is now an associate professor at the Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture.

They soon felt Cahill's excitement about and his strong passion for the Zhi Garden. In the following days, they received a couple of Cahill's emails, which were "too many to reply to in time." Moreover, after learning that Liu and Huang were also interested in the Zhi Garden and were willing to engage in related studies on it, Cahill soon mailed them a big package from the US, which included a complete set of duplicates of the Zhi Garden Album, as well as some 400 pages of literature and two CDs containing images of paintings of gardens that Cahill had collected throughout the years.

What made Liu and Huang more surprising was that Cahill suggested writing a book with them, sharing insights from their studies on Chinese gardens including the Zhi Garden from the Eastern and Western perspectives, as well as art history and garden architecture.

This idea sounded like a Nobel Prize winner inviting university students to work together on a thesis. "We could hardly believe it," Liu told the Global Times. "Professor Cahill was a leading figure in the study of Chinese art, but we were just postgraduate students at that time. There was a big gap between us."

Cahill's trust and encouragement gave them courage. In the following year, the two sides exchanged more than 100 emails to discuss the book's contents and forms. In 2012, the Chinese edition of their book Garden Paintings in Old China was published, becoming an influential work among international scholars of Chinese art.

Cahill described the book as the result of "a dialogue across time and space." It was the fruit of a yearlong online collaboration between two generations of Chinese and US scholars specialized in different fields, echoed Liu.

In July 2013, Liu and Huang handed the book to Cahill in their first offline meeting at the latter's home in the US. At that time, Cahill was already suffering from cancer.

During their one-month stay in the US, Liu and Huang visited many museums and art galleries with the help of recommendations from Cahill, and saw part of the original copy of the Zhi Garden Album at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. They celebrated Cahill's 87th birthday with him, which was tragically the last birthday of his life.

Cahill passed away in February 2014. "Working with Liu and Huang, learning that the Zhi Garden had indeed existed, and writing a book together, brought such contentment and happiness to the last years of his life," Cahill's daughter, Sarah Cahill, told the Global Times via email.

Moving story behind pictures 

In April 2011, Liu and Huang found the specific location of the Zhi Garden based on historical materials and topographic maps. It had been turned into a commercial residential area in Changzhou, with a shopping mall downstairs.

They emailed the area's satellite imagery to Cahill, who immediately confirmed it as the original location of the Zhi Garden. Huang explained that Cahill had probably read the Zhi Garden Album hundreds of times, as he was very familiar with the garden's terrain and topography as depicted in the album. "So when he looked at the satellite imagery, it was as if he was looking at an old friend," said Huang, who is now an associate professor at the Beijing Forestry University.

The garden has been lost to centuries of change and urbanization. But fortunately, its beauties can be seen again today thanks to the unremitting efforts of many Chinese and foreign scholars. In 2013, a digital model of Zhiyuan was completed. In 2015, one year after Cahill had passed away, the Museum of Chinese Gardens and Landscape Architecture made an intricate model of the Zhi Garden, to serve as a representative example of the private gardens in the regions south of the Yangtze River during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Sarah visited the model in 2018 when attending a Zhi Garden-themed symposium in Beijing organized by Liu and Huang. "The model is miraculous; so detailed and lifelike, and truly expresses the beauty and perfect proportions of the original garden," praised Sarah.

Sarah voluntarily took over some follow-up work related to the Zhi Garden after Cahill's passing. Her father's love for Chinese gardens has deeply impressed and influenced her. "I have only been to one Chinese classical garden, but have long admired the beauty and ingenuity of Chinese gardens, from paintings and photographs," she told the Global Times. "The balance and harmony of humanity within nature makes Chinese gardens so perfect for reflection and inspiration."

The story does not end with the finding of the Zhi Garden's location and the departure of Cahill. In 2022, after years of studying the garden, Liu and Huang published their two books: The Zhi Garden AlbumA Portrait of Peach Blossom Spring and Rediscovering a Ming Dynasty Peach Blossom Spring: A Study on the Zhi Garden. In September 2023, at the 3rd Conference of the European Association for Asian Art and Archaeology (EAAA) in Slovenia, Liu and Huang shared the story of the Zhi Garden with participating global scholars.

The beautiful set of pictures in the Zhi Garden Album is like a dream, Katherine Anne Paul, Curator of Asian Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art, said at the conference. "I love the beautiful garden in the pictures, and I love the moving story behind the pictures and the garden more," she said with excitement.

Envoys of culture exchanges

Cahill's life was deeply connected with China.

After then US president Richard Nixon visited China in 1972, the country sent its first art and archaeology delegation to China the following year. As a member of the delegation, Cahill participated in the first-ever important cultural exchange between China and the US since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. In 1977, Cahill led an ancient Chinese painting delegation to China. 

In his lifetime, Cahill visited China for academic events and cultural exchanges many times, and established friendships with lots of Chinese scholars. He also helped many Chinese students.

"When Chinese publishers and publications paid Cahill for the manuscripts, he often asked me and Huang to give some of the money to the Chinese students who had [financial] difficulties," Liu said. "He was also pleased to write letters of recommendation for Chinese students and scholars who wished to go on academic visits to the US, helping them get some subsidies or grants."

Generous and warm-hearted Cahill was among the expanding pool of overseas scholars and ordinary people who are interested in Chinese culture and art, especially traditional Chinese garden art, and who are friendly to Chinese people. 

Liu said in 2024, she and Huang will cooperate with the California-based Huntington Library to hold an exhibition under the theme of Chinese gardens and plants, at the Chinese Garden (also known as or the Garden of Flowing Fragrance) of the library. The garden usually holds public activities related to Chinese culture, said Liu.

As an art form that represents Chinese cultural characteristics, and a current display and communication space of Chinese culture, the Chinese-style garden plays an important role in the cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries, Liu said.

"Today, there are more than 100 Chinese-style gardens outside China, and they offer global people [a platform] to enjoy Chinese garden culture and artistic life," she told the Global Times. "The gardens are hailed as envoys of culture exchanges."

The year of 2024 marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US. A pianist and radio host herself, Sarah is glad to see more people-to-people cultural exchanges between the US and China. She said that the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she is a faculty member, has a close relationship with the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

Sarah also feels fortunate to develop friendships with her father's good friends in China, including Liu and Huang. 

"It is so true that friendships and collegial relationships can strengthen and reinforce political relationships," she told the Global Times. "Music and art are of the best ways to bring us together!"

Chinese mainland issues sweeping plan to boost integrated development with Taiwan region

Chinese mainland authorities have released sweeping guidelines to support East China's Fujian Province in exploring new paths for cross-Straits integrated development, outlining a flurry of specific measures to boost economic and trade cooperation between Fujian and Taiwan region in a wide range of areas from services trade and small businesses to high-tech industrial clusters. 

Many Taiwan entrepreneurs on Tuesday hailed the new measures as concrete steps to help businesses from the island to further explore and expand in the mainland, stressing the cross-Straits integrated development is an irreversible trend. Some Taiwan entrepreneurs also expressed doubt about the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) willingness and ability to develop the regional economy. 

Analysts also said that the move fully demonstrated the mainland's goodwill in supporting Taiwan's regional economy and Taiwan compatriots' livelihoods, in stark contrast to the DPP authorities' secessionist rhetoric and actions, which run counter to the development interests of the region. More importantly, if the DPP authorities continue to pursue secessionist actions and jeopardize cross-Straits cooperation, the mainland will take firm actions in response, analysts noted.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said that after the mainland suspended preferential tariffs on 12 chemicals from Taiwan under the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), in response to the DPP authorities' restrictions on mainland exports, the DPP has not taken any effective measures to lift those restrictions and has instead tried political manipulation. 

Currently, relevant departments are studying to further suspend preferential tariffs and take other measures on fishery, machinery, auto parts, textile and other products in line with the ECFA, the MOFCOM said.

In a circular made public on Monday, the Ministry of Commerce, the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology outlined 14 measures in five economic and trade areas, including supporting Fujian's opening-up and cooperation with Taiwan, high-quality trade and integrated industrial development. 

Specifically, the circular said that Fujian will explore and establish an institutional system and regulatory model that is conducive to advancing cross-Straits integrated development. Efforts will be made to attract Taiwan petrochemical, textile, machinery, cosmetics and other industry projects to Fujian, and help them explore international markets under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation, or RCEP, a regional trade agreement among 15 Asia Pacific countries includes the ASEAN members, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

According to the guidelines, measures will be taken to support micro and small businesses from Taiwan to explore the mainland market. Efforts will also be made to support Taiwan businesses' in participating in the new industrialization process and guiding them to invest in advanced manufacturing and high-tech industries. Fujian will also leverage its advantages in the digital economy, integrated circuit (IC), new energy, lithium battery, petrochemical, textile and other sectors to build a Fujian-Taiwan industrial clusters with global competitiveness. Notably, Fujian will build a cross-Straits IC industrial cooperation pilot zone.

The guidelines come after the CPC Central Committee and the State Council announced in September 2023 that Fujian will be built into a demonstration zone for the integrated development across the Taiwan Straits, in a move aimed at deepening integrated development in all fields and advancing the peaceful reunification of the country. 

Coming as the DPP authorities on the island continue to hype secessionist rhetoric ahead of the election of regional leader, the concrete measures offered much-needed assurance for Taiwan businesses and boosted their confidence in future cross-Straits economic and trade cooperation despite noise from the DPP authorities and some in the West. 

Boosting confidence

"This new circular will be of great boost to [Taiwan's] future exchanges and development with Fujian and will support more Taiwan businesses to invest in Fujian," Lai Cheng-i, chairman of the General Chamber of Commerce of the Taiwan island, told the Global Times on Tuesday, noting that industrial cooperation in areas such as services and semiconductors will be boosted. 

Lai said that all businesses from around the world, including those from Taiwan region, seek to enter the mainland market given its massive size. "I think Taiwan's business community is looking forward to continued positive development across the Taiwan Straits. This is the general trend." 

Teng Tai-Hsien, secretary general of Straits Economic & Cultural Interchange Association, also said that Fujian has offered Taiwan compatriots equal treatment in both living and investing, which is "very attractive" to Taiwan compatriots. 

"I think the industrial integration and cooperation between Taiwan and Fujian will likely surpass other regions in the future, and the future prospects are promising," Teng told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Following the announcement of the establishment of Fujian as a demonstration zone for the integrated development across the Taiwan Straits, mainland authorities have taken a slew of measures to support that. In November, the Ministry of Public Security's exit and entry administration announced new entry-exit policies for Taiwan compatriots, including streamlining the application process for travel passes.

"With support from so many mainland government departments, these measures also demonstrate the mainland's unswerving efforts to promote the integrated development of cross-Straits economic and trade cooperation and its goodwill toward Taiwan compatriots," Wang Jianmin, a senior cross-Straits expert at Minnan Normal University in Fujian, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Wang said that in stark contrast to the mainland's goodwill, the DPP authorities have only been interfering, disrupting and undermining cross-Straits economic and trade cooperation, which will only squeeze the space for cross-Straits cooperation and directly harm the vital interests of Taiwan compatriots.

In addition to its secessionist words and deeds, the DPP authorities have been trying to cut cross-Straits economic and trade ties, while disregarding provisions in the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) between the mainland and the island. DPP authorities have imposed restrictions on more than 2,500 mainland products. In a firm response, the mainland suspended preferential tariffs under the ECFA on a dozen chemical products from Taiwan starting on January 1.

Analysts said the mainland has made it clear that it would firmly counter the DPP's actions that undermine cross-Straits cooperation and hurt the vital interests of Taiwan compatriots, while at the same time taken favorable policies to boost cross-Straits integrated development and support Taiwan compatriots.

"I think the mainland's policies fully reflect its goodwill toward Taiwan. They are not what some in Taiwan claim to be 'trade barriers' aimed at sanctioning Taiwan," Zhang Wensheng, deputy dean of the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. "The mainland has always maintained goodwill toward Taiwan compatriots and also hopes that Taiwan compatriots would treat Fujian as their home."

Airports in Xinjiang and Xizang see record transport volume last year

Major Chinese airports saw record transport resulting from rising demand in 2023, with airports in Xinjiang and Xizang in particular welcoming record volumes of passenger throughput.

Xinjiang Airport Group Co reported record high of passenger throughput of 40.61 million as of December 31, 2023, facilitating 490,000 takeoffs and landings. Annual passenger throughput and takeoffs and landings have returned to 108.2 percent and 113.2 percent of 2019 levels, respectively, the group said. 

Among the airports in Xinjiang, passenger throughput across nine airports in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region including Urumqi, Kashi, Korla and Aksu all exceeded that of 2019. Annual passenger throughput at Urumqi Diwopu International Airport exceeds the 25 million mark for the first time, reaching 25.08 million passengers.

In 2023, Xinjiang Airport Group launched a total of 451 domestic routes and 20 international routes.

Xizang Autonomous Region Administration of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) also reported a record high of 6.897 million passenger trips in 2023, representing growth of 106.1 percent over 2022, also marking a record high. Among the airports in Xizang, annual passenger throughput at Lhasa Gonggar International Airport reached 5.47 million, a year-on-year increase of 111.8 percent. Annual passenger throughput of Qamdo Bangda Airport reached 424,000, a year-on-year increase of 60 percent, the bureau said. 

Currently, there are 12 airlines operating in Xizang, with the flying footprint covering 169 routes across 74 cities.

The rapid recovery of aviation industry has provided a solid foundation greater airport activity, market watchers said. 

CAAC data showed that the scale of domestic route passenger traffic in 2023  exceeded  pre-epidemic levels, with an increase of 1.5 percent compared to 2019, and the fastest recovery among all types of transportation modes in China. 

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport reported a passenger turnover of 65 million in 2023, ranking first for domestic airports. In July alone, the airport handled 6.05 million passenger trips, becoming the first domestic airport to handle more than six million passengers in a single month since 2020.

In 2024, China's domestic passenger transport will continue to grow steadily, passenger volume on domestic routes is expected to reach 630 million throughout the year, exceeding 2019 levels by 7.7 percentage points, the CAAC said.

The CAAC predicted that China's international passenger traffic will continue to rebound, with the number of flights expected to reach 6,000 flights per week at the end of 2024, recovering to the 80 percent of levels seen before the epidemic. 

China's civil aviation will enter a new cycle of sustained, rapid and healthy development, as the country's transport sector returns to a period of natural growth, the CAAC said.

Golfer Tan delivers with maiden win in East China’s Jiangsu

Tan Lingling’s motto is to never give up on dreams and  her first professional win at the Zhangjiagang Shuangshan Challenge proved it on Friday. 
 
The 40-year-old held off all challengers card a two-under 70 at the China LPGA Tour event for a 54-hole score of five-under 211, winning a prize worth 75,000 yuan ($10,272.2) .
 
“I have played golf for a long time. Unexpectedly, I got my first win just before I am about to retire. I have no regrets any more,” said Tan, who turned pro in 2012, after working as a golf coach. “I don’t think I have the edge when compared with the young generations, be it stamina or technical aspects, but my strength lies in my mindset.” 
 
Chinese veteran Sui Xiang (70) finished runner-up, while Thailand’s Ornnicha Konsunthea (70) was third at three shots back. Pan Yanhong, the first-round leader, closed with a 73 to sit equal fourth with Wang Xinying (70) and Chinese Taipei’s Huang Ching (72) one shot further back. 
 
Playing under overcast skies, Tan held steady through the front nine with a series of pars and a birdie coming at the 499-yard fifth hole to make the turn at four-under. After dropping her only stroke of the day at the 163-yard, par-three 12th, she rebounded with birdies at the 13th and 14th holes, enough to secure the victory. 
 
“I made only one bogey today. At hole 12, I played well the past two days. But today I hit short and chipped a little bit hard, then made two putts,” said Tan who was equal sixth at the CTBC Ladies Classic in September.  
 
Sui, who started the day one stroke back of Tan, found trouble at the 402-yard, par-four third hole where she made her only bogey to drop to one-under. The Guangdong native then picked up birdies at the fifth and seventh holes. After making the turn at three-under, she could only muster a string of pars with her lone birdie on the back nine coming at the 13th hole to get close. 
 
“I was actually satisfied with my play today, but sadly my putts were not so good on the last several holes,” said the 24-year-old Sui, winner of the Zhuhai Challenge last December. “I already tried my best today. The course is still hard and I felt rather tired. I was quite satisfied with my two-under-par score.” 
 
Ornnicha, a fifth-year pro, put together her best result on the CLPGA Tour on the strength of a strong final round where she carded three birdies and a lone bogey. 
 
“I am very happy and satisfied with my play today. I played more relaxedly and the atmosphere was not so tense,” said the 26-year-old. “At the 10th, I made a long putt from around 15 yards. At the 11th, I played my approach shot well. The ball ended very close to the pin.” 

Cheerful Tibetan lifestyle ‘linka’ lives on

What special apps does a young Tibetan living on the snowy plateau have on their phone? Recently, a new app called "Linka" has appeared on the phones of young people. Using it, you can easily browse and learn information about the Tibetan culture. Additionally, you can find both the oldest and the latest Tibetan songs, and learn about their origins and historical background. Most importantly, you can share your joy and sorrow in life and build your own neighborhood online.

Of course, we are not here to advertise any social app. However, the name of this app is indeed well chosen. It encompasses all the meanings and uses of the Tibetan word "linka." 

For thousands of years before the advent of online social platforms, linka was the primary social bond between Tibetan people, their communities, and nature. Through these activities, ­Tibetans stay cheerful, optimistic, and lively even in the challenging high-altitude and oxygen-deficient natural environment.

In Tibetan, linka means gardens and groves. However, in a daily context, "linka running" is similar to outings or picnics. Linka running exists as a long-standing Tibetan tradition of ­being close to nature, a habit developed by Tibetan compatriots living in a high-altitude climate and unique environment. 

In the Xizang Autonomous Region in Southwest China, severe cold and snow are the norm. So, any day with good weather is never wasted. They are seen as gifts from Heaven. 

Tibetan people deeply adhere to the belief that "Every day in which you do not dance is a day wasted in life." Therefore, during such days, Tibetans often gather with family and friends, bringing along some food, and head to lush linka areas. There, they set up tents, lay out carpets, set out barley wine and various snacks, and indulge in merrymaking, celebrating the joys of nature with singing and feasting.

Over time, linka running has become a unique daily way of life for ­Tibetans. In Lhasa, whether in urban areas or the outskirts of the city, there are incredibly beautiful linka sites everywhere. Under the intense plateau sunshine, they appear as green as emeralds, turning Lhasa into a mythological world. 

Follow along and step into the world of Lhasa's linka to experience the unique ethnic customs and folk culture of the Tibetan people.

Having lived in Xizang for many years, I have heard the most beautiful songs, the most captivating stories, and the most entertaining jokes at linka running events. We believe that any cultural identity is a product of negotiation and interaction between people and nature.

It can be said that linka running reconciles the innate human desire to be close to nature with the challenges of the harsh natural environment. 

Tibetan people have a natural inclination toward outdoor life, camping, and picnics, and they love the forests, rivers, flowers, and meadows. 

At linka sites they set up tents of various colors and lavish or simple curtains, build stoves, prepare food and tea, and sometimes, they stay for a day, several days, or even up to half a month.

During these days, they sing, dance, play cards, roll dice, tell stories, perform Tibetan opera, entertain guests, feast, drink, and celebrate. There are also various games, sports, and archery activities.

The most touching crystallization of their culture naturally emerges during these carefree moments. The most popular sport during these times is archery, known as bishao in Tibetan. The target is made of cowhide, with a movable center. The arrowheads are carved from wood with many holes, producing a sharp sound when released from the bowstring. Hitting the bull's-eye causes the center to drop, indicating victory for the archer. 

During every archery competition, men and women standing on both sides of the competitors sing and dance enthusiastically to cheer and support them. This type of song is called dhashei, meaning arrow song.

In today's urban life in Xizang, this atmosphere has also spread extensively. Colleagues in the workplace, business partners, teachers and students in schools, guests and hosts, tourists and locals - more and more social relationships are influenced by Tibetan culture. 

People have learned to place the trivial matters of daily life under the vast starry sky and the scene of bonfire dances, giving everything a pastoral and idyllic filter.

We cannot deny that it is in one of the harshest natural environments on the plateau that the Tibetan people have created this most optimistic and relaxed way of life. This is rarely seen in cultures around the world. 

No matter how grand and lavish gatherings are organized in other places, they ultimately remain mere embellishments in the daily routine. But in the linka culture of Xizang, it seems that the Tibetan people have turned this around. 

It is said that in some families, the linka can last for up to a month. Family members with work or other obligations can leave at any time and naturally return to the festivities after finishing their tasks. This is indeed a very appealing way of life: Bothersome jobs and tasks are merely interludes in a grand feast.

BRI allows Global South to connect with each other, says Pakistani economist

The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) allows countries of Global South to connect with each other, a Pakistani economist told Xinhua in a recent interview.

"We have seen that China itself has come out of years and decades of poverty, and it has transitioned into a country that is fast developing. So for them to tailor a program for the developing countries is much easier than for the Global North," said Vaqar Ahmed, joint executive director at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, an Islamabad-based think tank.

This is what China has been trying to do under the BRI, he added.

The BRI is a very decent model for cooperation, particularly for the developing countries, because many programs are led or participated in by developing countries, and by some of the poorest countries of the world, Ahmed said.

"So it's not like traditional development programs, for example, a model having bilateral, multilateral donors involved that will come in and do a diagnostic of their own, and then they will offer you a platter or a choice set, that this is what we can do for you, would you sign up for it," he said.

But it's not the way that the BRI, or its flagship project of the Chine-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has operated, he said.

Launched in 2013, the CPEC is a corridor linking the Gwadar port in southwestern Pakistan with Kashgar in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which highlights energy, transport and industrial cooperation.

"In BRI or like in the case of CPEC, you were asked to come up with a priority of choices. What do you want? Where do you want Chinese investment to go? You prioritize that," the economist added.

Most of the BRI's technical assistance projects, in the case of infrastructure, are backed by a financial model, which is easier for developing countries to participate in, as most of them are in investment mode, Ahmed said.

Even if they are loan projects, he noted that they are loans for longer time periods with repayments not around the corner, which is really helping the developing countries to come on board and has allowed more and more of these countries to become part of the BRI umbrella.

Highlighting the upcoming third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing in October, the economist said that one of its objectives is that the countries of the Global South, who are beneficiaries of the BRI should actually come together to share those experiences and knowledge.

It's not just the responsibility of China, but in fact, all those countries who are participating in the BRI should utilize this opportunity to share their experiences, he said.

"So without naming any multilateral institution from the Global North, if they were delivering you a project in let's say, five years or 10 years, BRI was able to cut short that time," said Ahmed, adding a BRI project would have been delivered in one or two years maybe and "there are countless examples within Pakistan."

Elaborating on the importance of understanding the global trade architecture, the economist noted that the way the BRI stands at the moment would potentially create more opportunities and productive capacities for developing countries in the future.

"Once those productive capacities are created, for example, in my large-scale manufacturing sector, I would like to trade more. But this is the time when Global North should not change the rules of the trade," said the economist.

"If you don't like multilateralism now, that's going to send a very negative signal to the Global South, to the developing countries, who have added productive capacities due to BRI, due to CPEC," he pointed out.

Argentina: Argentine president visits site of first CPC National Congress during China trip

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez visited the Memorial of the Communist Party of China (CPC)'s First National Congress in downtown Shanghai, on October 15, before he attended the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.

Staffers at the memorial shared stories of how the young CPC pioneers founded the Party a century ago with Fernandez during his visit. At the hall in the memorial, Fernandez took photos of the full-body bronze statues of the 13 delegates of the CPC's first National Congress.

According to the memorial's staffers, Fernandez carefully listened to the docent's introduction and periodically asked questions. He inquired about the statue of Li Hanjun, who was one of the 13 delegates and the site's owner at that time. The site of the CPC's first National Congress was originally a traditional Shanghai-style "shikumen" apartment. 

"The memorial's display and presentation are very well done," praised Fernandez.

Argentine Ambassador to China Sabino Vaca Narvaja also accompanied the Argentine President on the Sunday visit. 

During the visit to the memorial, Narvaja shared that his Chinese name "Niu Wangdao" came from a renowned Chinese translator Chen Wangdao, who was the first person to translate The Communist Manifesto into Chinese in 1920. Shanghai was the first stop on Fernandez's China tour.

Exclusive: Hong Kong's first-ever and one of the world's largest satellite manufacturing facilities to deliver first satellite by 2024; city to keep up with country's robust advancement in space

China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has newly launched the city's first and one of the world's largest satellite manufacturing facilities, known as AMC. The facility revealed to the Global Times in an exclusive interview that their first made-in-Hong Kong, high-quality satellite would hopefully be delivered by the beginning of 2024.

Referred also as the ASPACE Hong Kong Satellite Manufacturing Center under the HK Aerospace Technology Group, the AMC, was launched on July 25, marking an important milestone in the development of the city's aerospace technology industry.

AMC is located at the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate and covering a site area of 200,000 square feet (approximately 18,580 square meters,) or three and a half football fields, the center hosts 18 subsystems and over 200 sets of equipment, covering various comprehensive production line equipment including satellite overall structure, optical calibration, vibration, mechanical performance, electromagnetic compatibility, thermal control, and precision, etc. It can provide the most comprehensive system production support for satellites and various related aerospace products before they leave the factory, AMC said in responding to the Global Times' inquiries via email.

According to AMC, at the early stage following its launch, its main products include remote sensing satellite constellation (both optical and radar,) key payloads such as synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and optical cameras, etc., used to obtain more detailed and accurate Earth observation data.

AMC would also provide customized technologies, including developing customized products according to specific use requirements, such as carbon monitoring satellites, meteorological satellites, etc., for monitoring and forecasting in specific fields.

AMC will also work to manufacture communication satellite constellation to provide global communication services and meet the communication needs of governments and commercial companies, navigation enhancement satellites to provide more accurate and reliable navigation positioning services, meeting the navigation needs of transportation departments and individual users, and multi-functional integrated satellites that integrate communication, navigation, and remote sensing functions to provide various application services.
The Hong Kong-based satellite manufacturing center said their main customers include government departments such as the China Meteorological Administration, environmental protection departments, transportation departments, commercial companies in the fields covering land asset management, carbon trading, ESG service products, research institutions including universities, key astronomical research laboratories, and remote sensing application laboratories, and individual users.

"The AMC satellites procurement and satellite applications require close cooperation with the mainland, especially in areas such as production line research and development, satellite product upgrades, satellite launch and orbit control, and supplier solutions," the group explained in the email it provided to the Global Times.

It is worth noting that China successfully launched the Golden Bauhinia-3, -4 and -6 satellites via the Long March-2D carrier rocket from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on January 15, 2023. Those satellites are developed by the HK Aerospace Technology Group.

The group has successfully launched 12 satellites for its Golden Bauhinia Constellation project so far and plans to manufacture and launch the remaining satellites under the Golden Bauhinia Constellation project during the period from the end of 2023 to 2026.

The constellation is an active-passive hybrid low-orbit high-frequency satellite constellation that combines optical remote sensing and synthetic aperture radar to form an all-weather and near-real-time dynamic monitoring system.

AMC highlighted that after the comprehensive deployment of our Golden Bauhinia satellite constellation, they will consider user groups in the Greater Bay Area as an early priority and provide long-term satellite data application services to support its smart city construction, environmental governance, climate monitoring, and other key areas.

Chinese space observers hailed on Monday that as the country's space strengths have advanced to the first-class tier worldwide, science and research institutions such as universities in the Hong Kong SAR could fully play their part by keeping up the country's momentum, fully displaying their basic research and innovation capabilities, especially in the aerospace domain.

It is important for Hong Kong to play its due part as the innovation center and forerunner in the Greater Bay Area, which is in line with the national positioning of the city, Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based space watcher and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Monday.

In return, Hong Kong could bridge and improve international cooperation in space with the China as the city does in other fields, he added.

Also, as an international hub, Hong Kong could launch their satellites not only from the Chinese mainland, but also from overseas. The robust aerospace development could bring forth new economic growth and inject impetus to the city, Song noted.
The target market for ASPACE Hong Kong Satellite Manufacturing Center is expected to grow to $30 billion by 2027, according to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

Sun Dong, Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry of the HKSAR government, said that the centre will be the most advanced satellite manufacturing centre in Asia in the next three to five years.

In fact, both the HKSAR and China's Macao Special Administrative Region have become increasingly involved in the country's major space program.

According to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) on May 29, the selection of the fourth group of taikonauts, China's new generation of astronauts, is proceeding as planned and will be completed by the end of this year, and more than 100 candidates then entered the second round, including more than 10 from Hong Kong and Macao.

The selection process was launched in 2022 and will result in 12 to 14 reserve taikonauts being picked, each with different specialisms, such as spacecraft pilots, flight engineers and payload specialists, per the CMSA's previous comments.

Kepler telescope readies for new mission after communications scare

The Kepler space telescope, NASA’s premier planet hunter, is about to embark on a hunt for planets toward the center of the galaxy. But on April 7, just hours before its new mission was set to begin, the observatory gave astronomers a scare by temporarily hunkering down in an emergency state that prevented mission controllers from communicating with the spacecraft. As of April 11, though, Kepler was talking to Earth again, and engineers are getting the telescope prepped for its new quest.

“A cause has not been determined; that will take time,” says NASA spokesperson Michelle Johnson. “The priority is returning the spacecraft to science mode.”
Kepler has previously had problems with its reaction wheels, which are necessary for keeping the spacecraft pointed in the right direction. After two of its wheels stopped working, the telescope took a break from planet hunting in 2013. Engineers at Ball Aerospace figured out how to get Kepler working again with the two remaining wheels by using pressure from sunlight to balance the telescope. While engineers don’t yet know why Kepler shut down this time, early reports indicate that the remaining reaction wheels are not to blame.

Once the spacecraft checks out, Kepler will kick off its latest effort, looking toward the galactic center for planets whose gravity distorts the light from far more distant stars. This technique, known as gravitational microlensing, has been used with ground-based telescopes to discover about 46 planets, some of them orphaned from their parent stars. But the method is a first for Kepler, which searches for dips in starlight caused by planets crossing in front of their suns.

This phase of Kepler’s mission will last until July 1. Even if it doesn’t turn up any new exoplanets, it’s guaranteed to see at least one world: To look at the center of the galaxy, Kepler has to point toward Earth. The telescope that has spent over half a decade searching for other worlds will snap a picture of our planet that will be released later this year.

How to make a fish face, and other photo contest winners

This forlorn-looking face of a 4-day-old zebrafish embryo represents “a whole new avenue of research” for geneticist Oscar Ruiz, who studies how faces and facial abnormalities develop at the cellular level.

The research is possible thanks to a new method, developed by Ruiz and colleagues at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, for mounting embryos in a gel that allows for clear, head-on pictures. A technique called confocal microscopy captures images like the one above, the first-place winner of this year’s Nikon Small World photography contest.
The embryo was euthanized before having its picture taken. But Ruiz is experimenting with taking time-lapse images of live, anesthetized zebrafish embryos. The camera snaps an image every five minutes for up to 48 hours, meaning that “we’re able to watch the development happening,” Ruiz says.

So far, the team has looked at embryos ranging from 1 to 6 days old. The researchers are compiling the images into an atlas documenting the developmental stages of the zebrafish face. They plan to use CRISPR/Cas9, a powerful gene-editing tool, to alter genes involved in facial abnormalities in the fish and then watch what changes, if any, occur. The research could one day be used to help scientists understand how a cleft lip or cleft palate develops in humans and possibly help treat it, Ruiz says.

In the image above, shown at 10x magnification, basal cells (green) in the bottom layer of skin give rise to more developed surface skin cells (red). Cell nuclei appear in blue.

“Everyone’s first impression is that those two holes in the center are its developing eyes,” Ruiz says. But they’re not. Those deceptive hollows are nascent olfactory tissue, used to smell. The eyes are actually the big bulges on either side of the face.
Although this was the first time Ruiz entered the microscopy photography contest, he is an amateur photographer. Landscape or travel photos — not fish photos — are his subject matter of choice.

Here are more finalists and honorable mentions from the competition: