Xinhua News Agency

Founded in 1931, Xinhua News Agency is one of the largest news organizations in the world, with over 10,000 employees across the globe. As the main source of news and information for China, Xinhua plays a key role in shaping the country's media landscape and communicating its perspectives to the world. The agency produces a wide range of content, including text news articles, photos, videos, and social media posts, in both Chinese and English, and its reports are widely used by media organizations around the world. Xinhua also operates several international bureaus, including in key capitals like Washington, D.C., Moscow, and London, to provide in-depth coverage of global events.

China unveils name of first domestically-built large cruise ship


The name of China’s first domestically-built large cruise ship was unveiled in Shanghai on Friday. 

“Adora Magic City” aims to offer a unique and immersive cruise experience that seamlessly blends Eastern and Western cultures, with Shanghai serving as its home port in the inaugural season, according to details released at an event held by the municipal culture and tourism bureau and China State Shipbuilding Corporation Cruise Technology Development Co., Ltd. (CCTD).

Jointly designed and built by the CCTD and Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., the cruise ship, measuring 323.6 meters in length with a gross tonnage of 135,500 tonnes, can accommodate up to 5,246 passengers and is expected to be delivered by the end of 2023.

After the successful delivery of the cruise ship, an array of international routes will commence between the home port of Shanghai and neighboring countries serving as the destinations. In addition, medium and long-term routes will be launched to enhance cultural exchanges between China and other countries. (Xinhua) 

UN Economist Highlights Global Economic Challenges, Calls for International Unity

A leading UN economist has highlighted key global macroeconomic developments and emphasized the need for stronger international cooperation to address mounting economic challenges.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Tuesday immediately after the launch of the Mid-year Update to the UN’s World Economic Situation and Prospects report, Hamid Rashid, chief of the Global Economic Monitoring Branch at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and lead author of the report, cautioned about the possibility of “slower long-term growth” and indicated that a return to pre-pandemic growth rates remain unlikely both in developed and developing economies.

He warned of a potential prolonged period of “subpar growth,” underscoring the importance of understanding this new economic reality.

The interview delved into the intensified fiscal and monetary policy challenges in the current economic scenario. Rashid described the “trilemma” faced by policymakers in developed economies, who strive to stimulate economic growth, tame inflation, and maintain financial stability.

He acknowledged the difficulty of achieving all three goals simultaneously and explained that policymakers in developing countries, such as China and others, “have more fiscal and monetary space to navigate these challenges.”

Rashid highlighted the risk faced by the largest economies, as they need to maintain a tight monetary stance and tighten fiscal positions, which limit their options for expansionary measures for stimulating economic growth. This presents “a unique challenge” for policymakers in advanced economies.

Discussing the balance between taming inflation, ensuring financial stability, and fostering economic growth and employment while managing international spillover effects, Rashid acknowledged the complexity of the task.

The economist emphasized that policymakers in advanced economies “face challenging trade-offs,” where it may be hard to maintain financial stability while raising interest rates further to tame inflation. Maintaining inflation at the target level will require not only even higher interest rates but also “significant spending cuts,” which will dampen economic growth and have long-term implications.

Rashid further explained the international spillover effects of monetary tightening in the United States, which results in capital outflows from the developing countries and depreciation of their currencies. This, in turn, affects developing countries’ interest rates, cost of capital and investment, “adding an additional layer of complexity to the global economic challenges.”

Shifting the conversation to notable trends and shifts in global economic outlook since the previous report, Rashid highlighted “early signs of financial instability risks,” particularly in the U.S. banking sector. While these risks have been sporadic and not yet been widespread, they “expose vulnerabilities” due to rapid interest rate increases, which impact long-term bond prices and the balance sheets of the banks holding U.S. government bonds.

This “poses significant financial stability risks” that require careful attention, he added.

Regarding central banks’ response to inflation and monetary policy tightening, Rashid emphasized their focus on maintaining low inflation as the primary goal. However, achieving the 2 percent inflation target set by the U.S. Federal Reserve may “come at a high cost.” This includes keeping interest rates high, affecting credit channels and household spending, and potentially leading to lower economic growth. While the possibility of a recession remains uncertain, positive outcomes cannot be ruled out either.

Rashid expressed his key concern for the world economy, highlighting that many developing “countries on the verge of default,” struggling to provide fiscal support to economic growth due to high debt burdens.

He stressed the importance of international cooperation and restructuring debt “to provide more fiscal space for developing countries.”

Rashid called for common understanding and increased international cooperation, particularly with private creditors, to ensure a more equitable and sustainable solution. This would enable developing countries to have the necessary resources to support economic activities and “mitigate the risk of a significant global economic downturn.”

When asked about the projected slowdown in global growth being less severe than previously anticipated, Rashid acknowledged the resilience of household spending and he also cautioned about the ongoing monetary tightening measures. These measures might lead to significant weakening in household spending, resulting in a slight downward adjustment of growth forecasts for 2024.

However, he reassured that the expected recession or slowdown would likely be “shallower and of shorter duration.”

Highlighting the positive developments in the global economic situation since the report’s launch in January, Rashid emphasized an upward revision in growth forecasts.

Initially projected at 1.9 percent, the global economy is now expected to reach 2.3 percent. This positive adjustment is attributed to “the resilience of household spending” in developed economies like the United States and Europe, which account for a significant portion of economic activity.

Additionally, the recovery and reopening of China’s economy have also contributed to the more optimistic growth outlook, Rashid said.

Japanese public gathers to call halt to nuke wastewater discharge plan


Hundreds of Japanese people on Tuesday gathered at multiple locations in Tokyo to protest against the government’s plan to discharge nuclear-contaminated water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the sea, demanding immediate suspension of such plan.

On Tuesday morning, residents from prefectural regions, including Tokyo, Fukushima and Nagasaki, gathered in front of the headquarters of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), chanting slogans such as “Don’t pollute the ocean,” “Protect fisheries” and “Guard the future” in unison.

Seen on-site were various banners and flags with slogans that read “Don’t discharge polluted water into the sea,” “Don’t pollute the ocean for all,” and “The sea is not the toilet for nuclear power plants.”

The Japanese government, which regarded discharging nuclear-polluted water into the sea as the initial conclusion, has been making all kinds of excuses stressing that other discharge methods would not work or could not preserve nuclear-polluted water on land, said Kazuyoshi Sato, co-director of KOREUMI, a Japanese citizens’ conference to condemn further pollution of the ocean and one of the rallies’ organizers.

Sato, also a resident of Fukushima prefecture, said in his speech that the Japanese government is now spending tens of billions of yen to publicize the discharge plan through various media platforms, but the public, not convinced of such wrong propaganda, will not agree to the decision.

“Through today’s actions, we are raising our voice against the dumping plan to the whole world,” he said.

Chiyo Oda, another co-director of the group, read and submitted a petition to a TEPCO representative, demanding the company to abide by the agreement with local associations such as Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations and not to discharge nuclear-polluted water into the ocean without the understanding and consent of relevant parties.

The petition required disclosure of information such as the concentration and total amount of all radionuclides and reassessment of the radiation’s impact on the marine environment and creatures.

It also demanded fundamental countermeasures from TEPCO, such as exploring the construction of large water storage tanks for long-term nuclear-polluted water preservation and promoting the practical application of tritium separation technology.

The rally held in front of the Second Members’ Office Building of the House of Representatives later during the day was joined by five Japanese lawmakers from opposition parties, including the Constitutional Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Party.

Mizuho Fukushima, head of the Social Democratic Party, told the crowd that radioactive materials, once discharged, cannot be retrieved, so they must be intensively managed.

“Such materials would be beyond management if they are discharged into the ocean. We can’t allow such a thing to happen,” she said.

Biden to cut short Asia-Pacific trip due to debt ceiling stalemate


U.S. President Joe Biden will not travel to Papua New Guinea and Australia later this month as originally planned due to the ongoing stalemate in negotiations with congressional leaders to address the debt ceiling, multiple U.S. media outlets reported Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Biden would have become the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Pacific island country of Papua New Guinea, to be followed by a trip to Sydney for the leaders’ summit of the Quad, which includes the United States, Japan, India and Australia.

Biden will still go to Hiroshima, Japan, to participate in the three-day Group of Seven (G7) summit beginning Friday.

Earlier in the day, John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, told the regular White House press briefing that the White House was “reevaluating” the post-Japan part of Biden’s trip.

“What I can speak to is the G7 and going to Hiroshima. The president is looking forward to that. We are taking a look at the rest of the trip,” Kirby told reporters.

News of the shortening of the presidential overseas trip came as Biden was meeting with congressional leaders from both the Democratic and Republican parties in the Oval Office over the debt ceiling issue.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen reaffirmed Monday that the United States may default on its debt obligations as soon as June 1 if the partisan fight drags on without a settlement.

Biden will depart Washington on Wednesday, stopping over Anchorage, Alaska, before arriving in Japan on Thursday, according to the travel guidance announced previously by the White House.

Chinese technology helps Africa pursue quality development


Burundi, an East African country known as the “heart of Africa,” boasts favorable conditions for rice production thanks to its tropical climate with abundant rainfall, but Burundians have long been suffering from food shortage for the low yield of rice.

To help address the agricultural challenge in the country, China has sent five batches of senior experts under bilateral technical cooperation programs since August 2009. To conduct research and trials, the Chinese experts made field trips in all 15 rice-growing provinces in Burundi and successfully selected and introduced eight varieties of rice seed suitable to the local weather and environment.

Thanks to their efforts, poor yields or the threat of total crop failure caused by rice plague in mountainous areas becomes a thing of yesteryear.

Furthermore, as a leading country in the digital innovation industry, China has also been providing technical support for Africa’s digital economy development in terms of e-commerce, digital infrastructure, mobile application and payment, helping the continent unleash its great potential in agriculture and gain access to a broader global market.

Through cross-border e-commerce platforms, coffee from Ethiopia, chili sauce from Rwanda, black tea from Kenya, chocolate from Ghana and cashew nuts from Tanzania found their way to Chinese consumers. And Chinese e-commerce platforms such as Kilimall, Alibaba and KiKUU have also managed to hit the African market.

To facilitate the flow of more quality goods from Africa into China, a live-stream shopping carnival will be held at the third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in June in Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan Province, on the theme of “common development for a shared future.”

In February, the China-Africa economic and trade digitalization service base was unveiled in Changsha, aiming to build digital and information capabilities in China-Africa economic and trade cooperation. Meanwhile, it will also help African countries build more comprehensive and efficient payment systems.

With its rapid urbanization and huge demographic dividend, Africa has a broad market prospect for the digital economy.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted traditional trade and investment activities but otherwise facilitate the growth of the digital economy, it is of great significance for Africa to tap the digital economy’s potential to drive economic growth and strengthen global connections.

Chinese technology has empowered African countries to enhance the fight against poverty and contributed immensely to development. Cavince Adhere, a Kenyan International Relations scholar, said that China’s use of technology to help targeted poverty alleviation is an inspiration for developing countries.

Additionally, talent cultivation plays a significant role in economic development. To this end, China helps build up vocational education in Africa in an effort to improve Africa’s capacity building.

China has helped set up the Luban Workshop, which has effectively enhanced African countries’ capacity for independent development and played an important role in promoting social stability.

Africa’s first Luban Workshop was launched in Djibouti in 2019. Considering Djibouti’s transportation needs, the Luban Workshop offered training in the fields of rail transport operation and management with a view to helping build a local talent pool for the railway industry.

The workshop in Djibouti, as well as about a dozen others, set up in Africa over the years, has helped upgrade facilities and provided state-of-the-art technology and training for the host country.

As more qualified workers have mastered modern technologies and more advanced technologies from China are now being utilized in Africa, Sino-African cooperation has maintained its dynamic momentum and is even rising to a higher level.

Chinese tech giant Huawei and Botswana’s Debswana have jointly unveiled a 5G-oriented smart diamond mine project; Chinese and Ugandan companies have announced the East African country’s first 5G digital cement factory project; a science and technology center from the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences has been inaugurated in the Republic of Congo.

The projects have shown that China-Africa cooperation has kept pace with the times and continues to deepen and expand with the empowerment of emerging technologies.

Since China put forward the principles of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith in its ties with Africa a decade ago, the world’s largest developing country and the continent with the most developing countries in the world together uphold the spirit of peace, development, cooperation and win-win results, heading toward the high-quality practical cooperation.

Washington’s trade war causes losses to itself and world


The recent U.S. Census Bureau data suggest that the U.S. merchandise trade deficit with China was larger in 2022 than when Donald Trump was president, said an article on the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace website.

Adding that America’s overall trade deficit hit an all-time high of 1.18 trillion U.S. dollars, Carnegie noted that this fortifies the view that “tariffs would not reduce U.S. trade deficits and the costs would be paid largely by Americans.”

Similarly, the Financial Times recently commented on “waging war on trade,” describing the current U.S. approach as “a negative-sum game” and stressing that politicizing trade will surely lead to wasteful outcomes.

The slowdown in world trade, the article’s author Martin Wolf wrote, the shift towards economic nationalism, and the growing demands in the West for decoupling from China “are reshaping the global economy.”

In recent years, the U.S. bullying trading tactics have caused an increase in costs for international companies, a decrease in their competitiveness, and harm the interests of consumers.

Statistics show that the previous U.S. government has implemented over 3,900 sanctions, which is an average of three sanctions per day. The Biden administration has also announced a “Buy American” rule, requiring any goods purchased with taxpayer money to contain 75 percent American-made content.

Despite what appears to be a periodic implementation of protectionist and unilateral policies, American firms are reluctant to undertake such a shift, which could undermine their prospects in the global economy, said Rahim Teymoori, a researcher at the Development and Foresight Research Center of the Plan and Budget Organization of Iran.

“Although such economic policies would, in the short term, possibly contribute to the U.S. production sector on the back of the government’s financial support and protection, they, in the long run, would harm the U.S. companies’ competitiveness as they would lose a big integrated market, in which their connections have been formed,” he said.

Domestically, Washington’s trade war have caused sweeping losses borne by ordinary people. Worldwide, U.S. protectionist policies can lead to disordered supply chains, severe inflation shocks, and an increase in living costs.

The United States is not only restricting its companies’ overseas economic activities, escalating export controls, and introducing the Chips and Science Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to protect its interests, but also coercing other countries into joining the sanctions and forcing others to do things that are not good for themselves, said a Japanese researcher, noting that “this is an act of the mafia.”

Kiyoyuki Seguchi, research director at Japan’s Canon Institute for Global Studies, said that the U.S. export restrictions on semiconductors have affected companies in Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands and other countries, and even the United States itself.

In Seguchi’s opinion, the U.S. adoption of a zero-sum economics policy cannot succeed in the real economic field because “the logic in economic relations is that either win-win or lose-lose, there can be no result where one side wins and the other loses.”

Partly due to U.S. trade protectionism and the spillover effects of previous monetary and fiscal policies, global inflation has risen to a 40-year high and more than 60 percent of low-income developing countries are in debt trouble.

While the Trump administration had tried to bring profits and dividends to the country by imposing tariffs on multinational products, the Biden administration continued with this industrial policy of incentives, fueling high inflation and making the whole world bear the consequences, said Hsia Hua Sheng, an economist at the University of Sao Paulo.

U.S. President Biden warns of dire consequences of debt default


U.S. President Joe Biden has warned of the dire consequences of a possible default by the U.S. government on its debt obligation as early as June 1.

Speaking at SUNY Westchester Community College in New York on Wednesday, Biden said the U.S. economy would fall into recession with 8 million Americans losing their jobs, and its international reputation would be damaged in the extreme in the case of a debt default.

“If we default on our debt, the whole world is in trouble,” said Biden.

Americans would face higher interest rates for credit cards, car loans, mortgages and payments for social security, Medicare, troops, and veterans could all be halted or delayed, said Biden.

Biden, a moderate Democrat, blamed the so-called MAGA Republicans in the Congress for the “manufactured crisis,” saying there’s no question about U.S. ability to pay its bills.

Biden and Congressional leaders are set to meet again on Friday to negotiate a budget for fiscal year 2024, which is intertwined with the debt ceiling issue.

The first meeting between Biden and four Congressional leaders on Tuesday failed to generate meaningful breakthroughs.

The Democrats and Republicans are still jockeying for position prior to an anticipated intense showdown in the coming weeks.

In January, the United States hit its 31.4-trillion-U.S.-dollar debt limit, set in December 2021, prompting the Treasury Department to use accounting maneuvers known as “extraordinary measures” to keep the government paying its bills, such as curbing certain government investments.

Regional payment connectivity and local currency use prioritized by ASEAN leaders


To facilitate regional economic integration, leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) made a declaration on advancing regional payment connectivity and promoting local currency transaction on Wednesday during the two-day ASEAN Summit.

This year’s 42nd ASEAN Summit under Indonesia’s chairmanship is themed “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth,” held from May 9 to 11 in the Indonesian town of Labuan Bajo.

The declaration said leaders recognized the potential benefits of local currency usage in strengthening financial resilience, deepening regional financial integration by improving intra-ASEAN trade and investment, and bolstering regional value chains.

Leaders declared to commit to advancing regional payment connectivity by utilizing emerging opportunities brought by innovation to facilitate seamless and secure cross-border payment, taking country circumstances into consideration.

They also agreed to encourage the use of local currencies for cross-border transactions in the region and support the establishment of a Task Force to explore the development of an ASEAN Local Currency Transaction Framework.

Ahead of the summit, the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) had expected that Indonesia could drive regional de-dollarization through its 2023 ASEAN chairmanship.

Ajib Hamdani, head of Apindo’s Economic Policy Analyst Committee, said in an official statement that de-dollarization has become a global phenomenon and, to some extent, an economic orientation.

At the end of March, the ASEAN finance ministers and central bank governors meeting agreed to reinforce the use of local currencies in the region and reduce reliance on major international currencies for cross-border trade and investment in an effort to ensure financial stability and avoid spillovers such as high inflation from the global crisis.

China provides substantial opportunities to ASEAN countries, says Indonesian official


The economic growth and market in China, the world’s second-largest economy with a population of over 1.4 billion people, provide substantial opportunities for ASEAN countries, an Indonesian official has said.

“China’s economic influence is a significant driving force behind the RCEP’s (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) development in 2022,” Deputy for Coordination of International Economic Cooperation under the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, Edi Prio Pambudi, told Xinhua in a written interview during the two-day 42nd ASEAN Summit opened Wednesday.

The RCEP free trade pact comprises 15 Asia-Pacific countries including the 10 ASEAN member states of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and ASEAN’s five trading partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

“China’s participation in the RCEP provides member countries with access to a massive consumer market … offers substantial opportunities for ASEAN exporters,” he said.

Deeming China as an economic powerhouse, the official also said that the inflow of foreign direct investment from China to ASEAN countries “strengthens ASEAN’s economic development.”

The economic official also highlighted China’s key role in ASEAN countries’ integration into global value chains.

“The RCEP introduces the regional value chain that provides greater opportunities for ASEAN’s manufactured products to participate in the global value chain. China, as a significant player in the global production base for manufacturing and high technology products, is and will remain crucial in this context,” said Pambudi.

Noting threats of global geopolitical uncertainties and economic slowdown to ASEAN’s post-pandemic recovery and economic outlook, he expressed the hope that the economic ties between ASEAN and China will deepen to help the regional bloc cope with the situation.

“Strengthening trade facilitation measures, reducing trade barriers, and promoting regional integration initiatives like the RCEP can boost intra-regional trade and enhance ASEAN’s resilience to global economic challenges,” said Pambudi

 ASEAN spirited to be world’s new economic powerhouse


(Xinhua) — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) demonstrated its confidence in becoming the world’s new economic powerhouse, reflected at a summit held this week in the Indonesian town of Labuan Bajo.

This year’s 42nd ASEAN Summit under Indonesia’s ASEAN chairmanship is themed “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth.”

“We have a strong asset as the epicentrum of growth, an economy that grows far above average global economic growth, demographic bonus and a maintained regional stability,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Wednesday at the Summit’s opening session.

In his remarks at the summit, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, as quoted by Vietnam News Agency, highlighted three core factors to ASEAN’s characteristics: values, vitality and reputation, which have helped the regional bloc maintain independence and strategic self-reliance, turn into a growth epicenter and better adapt to external shocks.

Leaders attending the 42nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit pose for a group photo outside the venue in the town of Labuan Bajo in Indonesia, May 10, 2023. (Organizing Committee of the ASEAN Summit 2023/Handout via Xinhua)

In an April report, the Asian Development Bank projected that the economies in the Asia Pacific would grow 4.8 percent this year and next year, up from 4.2 percent in 2022, noting growth in the region remains resilient.

Leaders and senior officials engaged in productive bilateral and multilateral meetings. For example, Widodo met with Pham Minh Chinh on Tuesday and discussed joint efforts towards a bilateral trade target of 15 billion U.S. dollars by 2028.

On the same day, leaders from Indonesia and Timor-Leste agreed to form a joint working group for economic development in their border areas. Indonesia proposed immediate talks on a bilateral investment treaty.

“When we talk about ASEAN being the epicentrum of growth, it is related to opportunities,” Indonesian Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno said at a press conference on Wednesday, emphasizing opportunities in the sector of electric vehicles (EVs).

Indonesia, the current ASEAN chair, has been on track to promote EV use in the archipelagic country and the region in a new energy transition to reduce emissions.

An outcome document on developing a regional EV ecosystem is expected to be released from the summit to build ASEAN as a global production hub for the EV industry.

ASEAN has set the target of raising the proportion of renewable energy in its energy mix to 23 percent by 2025 for a low-carbon future.

In his opening remarks, Widodo mentioned the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as part of the efforts to reinforce inclusive cooperation for ASEAN in the future.

The trade deal comprises 15 Asia-Pacific countries, including the 10 ASEAN member states of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and ASEAN’s five trading partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

According to the World Bank, RCEP, the world’s largest free trade area, covers 2.3 billion people or 30 percent of the world’s population, contributes 25.8 trillion U.S. dollars or about 30 percent of global gross domestic product, and accounts for 12.7 trillion U.S. dollars or over a quarter of global trade in goods and services.

Noting that China and ASEAN are each other’s largest trading partners, Indonesian tourism minister Uno sees “the relationship between ASEAN and China (as) beneficial for the world.”

The International Monetary Fund said in April’s World Economic Outlook report that the reopening and growth of China’s economy would likely generate positive spillovers for countries with stronger trade links and reliance on Chinese tourism.

“After China’s reopening of its borders, we are looking to achieve more equitable and more sustainable, and with better quality in terms of trade and investment between ASEAN and China,” Uno said.

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