A Boeing 737 MAX arrives in Guangzhou, ending nearly 5-year freeze after fatal crashes

One Boeing 737 MAX flying from Seattle has arrived at the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in South China's Guangdong Province on Saturday, flight information provider VariFlight revealed on Saturday.

The delivery ends a nearly five-year freeze since China suspended most orders and deliveries of Boeing planes in 2019 following two fatal crashes of the 737 MAX in other countries.

Information shared with the Global Times shows that the plane, operating under the flight number of CZ5073, has joined the China Southern Airlines fleet.

The delivery of the Boeing 737 MAX comes at a moment as the US plane manufacturer is in its turmoil.

Reuters reported that the US Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday tightened pressure on Boeing by barring the troubled planemaker from expanding production of its best-selling 737 MAX narrowbody planes, following "unacceptable" quality issues.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun faced questions from senators on the Alaska Airlines incident in a series of meetings on Wednesday on Capitol Hill. Senate Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell said she would hold hearings to investigate the root cause of Boeing's safety lapses, according to Reuters.

Regarding the delivery of MAX series in China, China's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the Boeing 737 MAX8 model has met delivery requirements set by Chinese regulators as of December 8 of 2023.

Before the delivery of MAX, a 787-9 Dreamliner ordered by Juneyao Airlines had been delivered in December of last year, and it is also the first time since November 2019 that Boeing has delivered a 787 Dreamliner plane to a Chinese airline.

China is regarded one of the most rapidly developing aviation markets in the world, as Boeing forecast in September of last year that China will need 8,560 new commercial airplanes through 2042, driven by economic growth well above the global average and increasing public demand for air travel.

Chinese home-developed C919 aircraft also gear up the flying in China. China Eastern Airlines said on Saturday that all the C919 aircraft it received are being put into the Chinese New Year's travel rush.

US export curbs to affect 10-15% of 2024 sales in Chinese market: ASML

Chipmaking equipment producer ASML on Wednesday announced better-than-expected results for the fourth quarter and full year of 2023, while warning that US export controls would affect its sales in China by 10-15 percent in 2024.

For 2023, ASML reported 27.6 billion euros ($30 billion) in revenue, up 30 percent year-on-year. Its gross profit margin was 51.3 percent, with a net profit of 7.8 billion euros, and the unshipped order backlog reached 39 billion euros.

Business with China in 2023 was extremely robust and strong, Roger Dassen, executive vice president and chief financial officer of ASML, said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Wednesday.

The Dutch company has been caught in the broader technology battle between the US and China. On January 2, ASML said that the Dutch government had partially revoked an export license for the shipment of some chipmaking equipment to China, following US export restrictions.

Exports of NXT:2050i and NXT:2100i lithography systems in 2023 were affected, the company said.

"It can be anticipated that in 2024, we will not obtain export licenses for shipping NXT:2000i and higher immersion equipment to China. Additionally, certain advanced chip manufacturing wafer fabs in China will be unable to obtain licenses for shipping NXT:1970i and NXT:1980i immersion equipment," Dassen said.

ASML previously said that the US export restrictions would affect 10-15 percent of China sales. There would be a similar impact in 2024, Dassen said.

"However, we can still observe strong demand in the mature process markets within the end-user market," said Dassen.

The US containment strategy related to high-end chips has failed to prevent Chinese companies from making their own 5G models, so it tightened the curbs, Zhang Hong, a veteran industry observer, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Zhang noted that the move will only disrupt global industry chains and hit global technology giants' profits, and cause them to lose market shares in China.

In response to the Dutch government's blocking of ASML exports to China, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on January 2 said that China strongly opposes the hegemonic and bullying practices of the US, which seriously violate international trade rules, undermine the global semiconductor industry structure and affect the security and stability of international industry and supply chains.

Wang urged the Dutch side to respect the spirit of contract and take concrete steps to protect the shared interests of China and the Netherlands and the companies of the two countries, adding that China will resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.

"The semiconductor sector is a highly globalized industry. In a deeply integrated world economy, the US actions will surely boomerang," Wang said.

China’s largest dual-fuel car transporting ship sets sail to Europe

China's largest dual-fuel driven car-carrying vessel set sail on its maiden voyage from Shanghai to Europe on Wednesday, supporting the country's vehicle exports, according to China Media Group.

The maiden voyage of the vessel will transport a total of 5,000 China-made vehicles to Europe after setting sail from Shanghai and refill at other Chinese ports. At least half of the shipped belong to new-energy vehicles.

The vessel was the first car carrier invested by Chinese ship owner, the SAIC Anji Logistics Co, with largest capacity among world's in-service car carriers, which has a maximum capacity of 7,600 vehicles with over 40,000 tons of displacement. It dual-fuel engine can reduce 40 percent of CO2 emission, according to the report.

Data from China's General Administration of Customs showed that China exported 5.221 million vehicles in 2023, rising 57.4 percent year-on-year.

Shanghai Waigaoqiao port, China's largest port for vehicle export, realized a record 1.025 million vehicle export in 2023, thepaper.cn reported on Wednesday.

To match the nation's newfound strength in the emerging field of vehicle exports, Chinese shipyards are running at full throttle to keep up with demand from shipping companies as well as auto manufacturers.

Over the next three years, a total of 14 car carriers with various capacity levels will join SAIC Anji Logistics Co's transport fleet, further supporting exports of Chinese auto brands, said the report.

Britain's spymasters should look in the mirror to find undercover operatives stealing secrets

In recent years, Britain's Secret Intelligence Service has intensified its attacks on China for alleged spying activities in Britain. However, if the SIS wants to root out operatives working undercover to steal the country's secrets, they should perhaps ask themselves. The arrest of a businessman surnamed Huang by China's Ministry of State Security brings attention to the hypocrisy of the spymasters at MI6.

Huang, the head of an overseas consultancy, is accused of serious offences. He is said to have worked for SIS for about nine years, using the specialist skills and equipment provided to him after being recruited to steal state secrets. The MSS says that behind his façade as a businessman, his undercover job was to collect China-related intelligence for the British espionage agency and identify potential recruits. 

It smacks of double standards. What else would you call repeatedly attacking another state by accusing it of something, and then cynically behaving in the same way?

Last year, the head of MI6, Richard Moore, said in2023 that China presented "an epoch-defining challenge" and that his organization commits more of its resources to Beijing's activities than to any other country. It is not the first time he criticized China. In 2021, he described China ominously as "an authoritarian state, with different values from ours."

The UK's assaults on China come in many forms. They can be a warning of vague, unsubstantiated allegations about individuals having undue influence on British politicians. They can come as personal attacks on people of Chinese heritage simply because they work with influential decision-makers to raise issues of concern to the UK's Chinese community (but without real evidence to back up the slurs). They can even come in the form of sudden arrests by police accusing people of serious espionage offences - and then letting those people go free without charge. A common feature of these events is that they created a great deal of smoke without fire - generating much Sinophobic sentiment fueled by unsupported allegations. Nothing came of them.

The most recent example is of Chris Cash, a researcher in the UK parliament, who was arrested, with an associate, under espionage laws. He could hardly be described as pro-China - he actually worked for an anti-China research group and vehemently denied wrongdoing. The substance of the investigation seems to have been that he had contact with influential politicians interested in Chinese affairs. It looked like guilt by association. Neither he nor his colleague have been charged.

Cash's arrest happened almost a year ago, but it did not become public knowledge until it was leaked to the British media six months later, creating negative publicity, at about the same time that Beijing was hoping to improve China-UK relations at a high level.

Two years ago, Christine Lee, a London-based layer of Chinese origin, was accused by Britain's domestic intelligence service, MI5, of being a spy for Beijing - and yet again, no arrests or charges followed. All that happened was that her reputation - and goodwill toward China - was severely damaged. The agency accused her of being "involved in political interference activities" in the UK. Lawmakers in the House of Commons were also given a so-called "interference alert" - the first issued in at least 80 years. Lee knew nothing about it until she saw media reports branding her "an enemy of the state." She later launched legal action against MI5 in a bid to clear her name.

Britain's intelligence services have clearly identified China as a target for their operations. Is one aspect of that to cast suspicion on people simply because of their Chinese background or with personal connections to China, or with a special interest in China? Why is there so much smoke without any fire, so many accusations without substantiation? In the Huang case London stands accused of doing the very thing it accuses Beijing of doing. It's astonishing hypocrisy, especially when the West has so often been caught out in the past. 

Cruise services being revived along Chinese coastal lines

Following the successful maiden commercial voyage of the Adora Magic City, China's homegrown large cruise ship, a number of ports and cruise companies are bidding to restart the industry which had developed at record pace prior to the pandemic.

Industry insiders told the Global Times that they are planning new moves to develop the cruise market in the coming months.

On Sunday, International cruise ship Dream set sails from Sanya International Cruise Port in South China's Hainan Province, local news portal hinews.cn reported on Monday. A total of 599 passengers embarked on a voyage to Vietnam's Hạ Long Bay that spans four days and three nights. The cruise ship will be based in Sanya and complete a total of 15 voyages through to March 31, according to the report.

Apart from Sanya, ports along China's costal line from north to south are preparing for a resumption of cruise travels. 

On January 9, as part of a sweeping plan to support Nansha district in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) and deepen comprehensive cooperation and expand high standard opening-up, China's top economic planner announced a plan to offer 144-hour visa-free period for people transiting through the district and visa-free for cruise travel.

A representative from the Port of Guangzhou, the world's fifth largest port, told the Global Times on Tuesday that Nansha International Cruise Port in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province that the terminal is preparing to re-launch cruise service.

Earlier, it was reported that the terminal, after a suspension of four years, aims at fully resuming operation in the early months of 2024, possibly before the Chinese Lunar New Year.

In January, the Adora Magic City, operated by CSSC Cruise Technology Development Co, welcomed its first group of over 3,000 Chinese and foreign passengers on a voyage to South Korea and Japan.

Royal Caribbean International said it is sending the Spectrum of the Seas back to China which is scheduled to conduct its first voyage in April.

At a recent media exchange event, Liu Zinan, Asia chairman of Royal Caribbean Cruises, told the Global Times that with Royal Caribbean and CSSC Cruise starting to operate in the Chinese cruise market in 2024, the number of Chinese cruise tourists in 2024 is expected to recover to 70 percent of 2019 levels, and the market is expected to fully recover by 2025.

China's cruise market was the world's second-largest before the COVID pandemic struck.

In 2019, China's international cruise market was already 10 times that of Japan, only exceeded by the US, which is the world's largest cruise market.

According to a report by the China Cruise & Yacht Industry Association and the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, the cruise ship industry could contribute 550 billion yuan ($81.05 billion) in economic output to Chinese economy by 2035. About 15 percent of them would come from the building of new ships, repairs, and maintenance.

Xie Xie, a research fellow with China Waterborne Transport Research Institute, told the Global Times on Tuesday that currently cruise terminals in China are trying their best to attract cruise ships to be based in the region, while cruise ships are also trying to find their comfort zones, noting that price wars have dented profitability of some cruise companies that restarted businesses last year.

Xie expected China's cruise industry to return to 60-70 percent of their pre-pandemic value in 2024. "But the cruise ports still need to improve their services capacity, including further improving their business environment and offer more targeted itineraries for cruise tourists."

Currently, foreign tourists face the difficulty of payments while onshore, lack of social media apps and quality of onshore itineraries, Xie said.

BYD overtakes Tesla in quarterly EV sales, reflecting China’s rapid industrial upgrade

Chinese electric vehicle (EV) producer BYD Co overtook US-based Tesla Inc to become the world's biggest EV maker in the fourth quarter of 2023 for the first time, according to latest data from the companies. This had added another milestone to a historical year for China's auto industry as it's poised to propel China to become the world's biggest auto exporter. 

BYD's success, which also include an impressive growth rate throughout 2023 that outpaced Tesla and other EV makers, is a microcosm of the achievement in China's upgrade of its vast manufacturing industry, export sector and the domestic market - all crucial to China's high-quality development, experts said. 

On Tuesday US time, Tesla said that it delivered 484,500 EVs in the final quarter of 2023, which also marked a new record for the company. However, that means BYD, which said on Monday that it had sold about 526,400 EVs during the same period, overtook Tesla to become the world's biggest EV maker in the fourth quarter of the year for the first time.

For the whole year of 2023, Tesla retained its spot as the biggest EV maker, as it delivered a total of 1.8 million EVs, larger than BYD's total sales of about 1.57 million units. Still, BYD's recorded a year-on-year sales growth rate of 73 percent for 2023, far outpacing Tesla's sales growth of 38 percent. Such sales growth rate has also led many to speculate that BYD will surpass Tesla to become the world's biggest EV maker in 2024. 

This is also significant considering that BYD's market capitalization, at 573.17 billion yuan ($80.21 billion) as of Wednesday, represents only a fraction of Tesla's $778.42 billion. Over the past six months, BYD's shares dropped by 28.85 percent, while Tesla's shares fell by 11.22 percent. 

Despite such a huge gap in the financial market, analysts expect that BYD is well positioned to maintain its lead in EV sales in 2024 over Tesla. 

Hu Qimu, a deputy secretary-general of the digital-real economies integration Forum 50, said BYD's success is due to a slew of factors, including its own technological innovation, major policy support for industrial upgrading, a complete and stable domestic supply chain - which all helped BYD to make high-quality but affordable EVs. 

"Given all these factors, it is no wonder that BYD surpasses Tesla," Hu told the Global Times on Wednesday.  

In a statement it sent to the Global Times, BYD noted that it has grown to be the world's biggest EV company, and since its passenger car export strategy in May 2021, it has exported to 58 countries and regions around the world.

"Going forward, BYD will continue to promote the overseas expansion of passenger cars and continue to accelerate the global expansion of new-energy passenger cars," the company said. 

BYD's milestone also came as China's whole EV sector saw a bumper year in 2023. According to the latest data from the China Association of Automobile Manufactures, in the first 11 months of 2023, China's exports of new-energy vehicles jumped 83.5 percent year-on-year to 1.09 million units. Thanks to such rapid growth, China's total auto exports reached 4.41 units, up 58 percent year-on-year and outnumbering Japan's 3.99 million units during the same period. 

This also represents a landmark event for China's auto industry as it becomes the world's biggest auto exporter after surpassing Japan in 2023 and Germany in 2022 - two countries that had been dominating the world's auto market for decades. 

Industrial upgrading

The success of BYD as well as the whole Chinese EV sector directly reflect solid progress China has made in relentlessly pushing for industrial upgrade and high-quality development, experts said.

Cui Dongshu, secretary general of China Passenger Car Association, said BYD and other Chinese EV makers have benefited greatly from China's vast domestic market as well as the country's efforts to boost industrial transformation and upgrade. 

"The biggest factor behind Chinese EV's success is the technological transformation. In addition, the Chinese market also offered a huge advantage for them to grow," Cui told the Global Times on Wednesday, noting that China's auto industry, especially the EV sector, has seen relatively better growth than other countries around the world thanks to China's policy supports. 

For its success, BYD also pointed to various policies, including China's continued reform and opening-up, support for private businesses and the building of a new development model. 

"Looking back, we feel more and more strongly that it was the reform and opening-up that gave birth to BYD, and it was the new development concept that created huge opportunities that strengthened BYD," the company said in the statement.

Policy support for the EV sector is just part of China's broader effort to transform and upgrade its industrial system, which has become a top priority in the pursuit of high-quality development. The Central Economic Work Conference held in December, which set priorities for economic work for 2024, listed the development of a modern industrial system led by innovation as a top priority.

Hu said that China's industrial transformation and upgrade has made great strides. "Through industrial transformation and upgrade, our international competitiveness is also strengthening and in terms of the macroeconomic situation, all three main drivers have been revitalized," he said. 

One example of industrial upgrade revitalizing China's main economic drivers is the exports of EVs. Lithium batteries and solar panels became a highlight of China's exports in 2023, and they have been described as "the new three items" of China's exports sector, a drastic shift from the previous "three items" of China's exports - clothes, furniture and electronics. 

In the first three quarters of 2023, total exports of "the three new items" jumped by 41.7 percent year-on-year, compared to a mere 0.6 percent in China's total exports during the period due to weak external demand. 

SW China’s Sichuan man under criminal detention for killing and eating national first-class protected black-necked crane

Police in Meigu county in Liangshan, Sichuan, recently received a report from the School of Ecology and Nature Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, which said that a black-necked crane with a tracker for scientific research had remained in a static status for an extended period. The institute asked for an investigation into the condition of the migratory bird. 

The police immediately formed a task force to investigate into the incident in the outskirts of a sparsely populated hamlet. 

After extensive investigations and visits, the police finally tracked down the suspect surnamed Jike. 

Jike confessed under interrogation that he illegally captured and killed the rare species of the endangered wildlife animal black-necked crane. 

According to Jike, he happened to see the big bird resting on the river bank on his way home and the idea of catching and eating the bid just occurred to him. A thought that he soon followed up on.  

According to the judicial appraisal results by a forestry judicial appraisal center in Sichuan, the bird killed by the suspect was a black-necked crane, which is one of China’s national first-class key protected animals. The tracking device tied to the bird’s foot and the serial number show that the black-necked crane was exactly the one that was used for ecological study of migration of the crane by the college institute. 

Jike has been placed under criminal detention by the police for the suspicion of the crime of endangering precious and endangered wildlife animal. The case is currently under further investigation. 

According to media reports, the black-necked crane is the only species of crane endemic to China and is among the 15 crane species that currently exist in the world. It is also the only crane species in the world that grows and breeds on plateaus, earning it the titles of “plateau fairy” and “plateau divine bird.”

China’s top legislature passed regulation on February 24, 2020 to strictly ban the illegal wildlife trade and eliminate bad habits of eating wild animals in China to safeguard people’s health and livelihoods. 

According to China’s Criminal Law, anyone who illegally captures, kills, transports, purchases or sells national protected, precious, endangered wildlife and their products, shall be sentenced to imprisonment for up to five years or faced with criminal detention, along with a fine. 

In cases of serious circumstances, the punishment may be extended to 5-10 years of imprisonment, along with a fine. In particularly severe cases, the sentence may be more than 10 years of imprisonment, along with a fine or confiscation of property and assets. 

Beijing subway carriages’ separation caused by rear-end collision due to snowy weather: transportation authority

Preliminary investigation shows the separation of carriages accident along the Changping Line of Beijing subway on Thursday evening was due to the snowy weather, which affected the train's braking system, resulting in a rear-end collision with the front train, Beijing transportation authorities said on Friday.

Around 11:00 pm on Thursday, the personnel transfer was completed, and the on-site disposal work basically finished. A total of 515 people were sent to the hospital for examination, and 102 people were found to have suffered fractures, with no fatalities, the authorities said on Friday.

According to the authorities' announcement, the accident occurred as a result of the slippery tracks caused by the snowy weather. The preceding train had to make an emergency brake to stop. Unfortunately, the following train was situated in a downhill section, making it difficult to effectively brake due to the snowy conditions.

Beijing transportation authority apologized for the inconvenience, fright, and injuries caused to the passengers in this accident, and vowed to do a good job in carrying out post-accident work and conduct a comprehensive investigation to improve extreme weather operation and emergency response to ensure the safety of operations.

It was at 6:57 pm on Thursday, when a rear-end collision occurred in the section between Xi’erqi to Life Science Park stations of the Changping Line. The municipal government officials immediately went to the scene and set up a working group for on-site accident disposal. The relevant departments including transportation, firefighting, health, public security and emergency response responded quickly and made efforts for rescue, according to the authorities.

As of 6 am on Friday, 423 people have been discharged from hospital, 25 people are under observation, and 67 people are receiving hospital treatment, the authorities said.

On Friday, Beijing Subway apologized again over the incident, while putting in place measures to reduce inconvenience for passengers.

Currently, the Beijing municipal government has established an investigation team for the Changping Line accident, which will further investigate the cause of the accident, evaluate the emergency response, and learn lessons from the accident, effectively carrying out rectification measures.