Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Italy – Europe’s third and the world’s eighth largest economy – has taken place at a most favorable juncture in relations between the two countries though raising a few eyebrows among the South European nation’s traditional allies.

Concerns have been voiced about a memorandum of understanding Italy and China signed during Xi’s visit putting the seal on Italy’s official involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s massive infrastructure project designed to connect Asia, Africa and Europe through a “belt” of overland corridors and maritime routes.

Some European politicians and opinion-makers are speculating that China aims to hold sway over Italy by pouring in large amounts of money and gaining control of infrastructure projects. Washington has warned Rome against lending legitimacy to what it describes as “China’s infrastructure vanity project.”

It is of course a misleading representation of Italy’s interest in being part of BRI for the indubitable economic gains it can reap from it and the possibility of availing itself of China’s investments and technological inputs.

Italy’s formal BRI engagement has sprung from the thriving bilateral relations the two nations have been forging, particularly in the last few years.

The state visit to China by Italian President Sergio Mattarella in February 2017 and the participation of then Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May 2017 – the only head of government of a major European country to do so – marked the climax of Italy’s proactive steps to join BRI.

Eight centuries ago, Marco Polo was the first Western businessman to reach China via the original Silk Road opening the way to lucrative trade links between the Republic of Venice and Imperial China. Today, Italy is the first of the seven top Western economic powers to join the 21st century Silk Road project.

This should not come as a surprise since Italy and China are already mutually involved in a large number of economic activities including innovative and advanced sectors such as healthcare, environmental protection, green farming, industrial upgrade, urban planning and sustainable development. Building new interdependencies and leveraging new and old complementarities will allow China and Italy to remain at the forefront of the global economy.

The two nations are united by an ever-growing synergy that reflects the policy of international cooperation and openness being carried forward by the Chinese government under the leadership of President Xi who has committed his country – to quote just one of his many pronouncements – to “continue to foster an open economy that benefits all. Openness brings progress while self-seclusion leaves one behind.”

Deepening relations between Rome and Beijing are also the result of the vision pursued by Italy’s Ambassador to China Ettore Sequi under whose tenure interaction between the countries has progressed considerably at all levels, and Italy’s exports have constantly risen reducing its trade deficit with China.

HANOI, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) — Leaders of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States ended their second summit in the Vietnamese capital Thursday with no deal reached.

Differences over details of denuclearization and easing of sanctions hindered Kim Jong Un, top leader of the DPRK, and U.S. President Donald Trump from reaching an agreement. However, their respective teams “look forward to meeting in the future.”

SUMMIT CUT SHORT ABRUPTLY

The two leaders started their second day of the summit Thursday morning at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, where they had a brief one-on-one chat and a dinner for about two hours the previous night.

The event, which has been widely expected to produce some sort of agreement on denuclearization and easing sanctions on the DPRK, was cut short abruptly, with the planned working lunch and a signing ceremony for a possible joint document canceled.

A scheduled press conference by President Trump was subsequently brought forward by two hours to 2:00 p.m. local time (0700 GMT).

Trump told the press conference he cut short his summit with the DPRK leader as the two sides could not agree on details about denuclearization and sanctions.

The U.S. president said, “We had some options, and at this time we decided not to do any of the options, and we’ll see where that goes.”

Speaking at the same press conference, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the two leaders had made “real progress” during their talks. “We are certainly closer today than we were 36 hours ago,” he told reporters.

After the earlier-than-scheduled ending of the summit, the White House said though the two leaders ended their meeting without any agreement, they had “very good and constructive meetings” and discussed various ways to “advance denuclearization and economic driven concepts,” adding the two countries’ respective teams looked forward to meeting in the future.

A Chinese military aerobatics team arrived in Pakistan Saturday for a scheduled performance on March 23.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force’s August 1st aerobatics team was invited to participate in a national day air show, which will further deepen the practical cooperation between the air forces of the two countries, according to a press release.

Chinese and foreign consumers are showing strong support to Huawei as the top telecom equipment maker woos the globe with the world’s fastest foldable 5G smartphone at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019 in Barcelona, Spain.

In China, a 3-minute video titled Huawei Beauty, which features about 30 children from the Chinese mainland and the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions dancing and singing lyrics praising Huawei, went viral on the internet on Wednesday afternoon. The children all wore black pants and white T-shirts with the Chinese characters “for China” on the shirt.

The lyrics include the phrases “Huawei is good, Huawei is beautiful,” “Huawei wins honor for the country,” “teachers taught us to love our country, we love homegrown smartphone brand Huawei” and “China’s homegrown chips are the most valuable.”

Zhou Dan Children Music Studio, based in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province, produced the video. The studio had not responded to an interview request from the Global Times as of press time.

However, in a post on its WeChat account, Zhou Dan, the owner of the studio, said that the effort had been self-funded and the video production is a charity work. “We just want to express our own feelings and we do not ask anything in return.”

“The teachers, children and parents who participated in the making of the video are all fans of Huawei,” Zhou said.

The song was written by three famous Chinese songwriters including Li Yourong. Zhou added that Li’s intention was to praise Huawei’s “morality” and express Chinese people’s concerns for Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who was detained in Canada in December 2018 at the behest of the US.

In a comment left under the post, a netizen said he has looked to change his phone for a long time and “finally the world-class Huawei smartphone produced by a Chinese firm has arrived.”

“The song will not only be sung in China, but also around the world,” the netizen said.

Huawei said in a post on its verified yet unofficial Weibo account Huafen Club that the video was created by some Netizens without the knowledge & participation of Huawei. “We appreciate the public care and love for Huawei,” the post said.

Huawei is also an unavoidable topic at the ongoing MWC, which has attracted more than 2,000 technology companies from 200 countries and regions. The company’s logo appears almost everywhere, as the badge to the conference also features a Huawei lanyard. It’s even crazier when people approach Huawei’s booth, which took up almost half of one of the exhibition halls. Long lines are commonly seen in front of its booth, as people wait to see the new and stylish Huawei Mate X, which has become one of the most popular gadgets at the event.

The foldable 5G smartphone, which is presented like a work of art behind a display stand, attracts plenty of attention every day. The Huawei Mate X is face-to-face with its major rival Samsung’s foldable phone, and attendees check out these two electronic devices like they’re at the Louvre looking at the famous Mona Lisa. “It’s incredible and it’s so beautiful,” an attendee from France said in front of the Huawei Mate X stand.

The 2019 China Internet Conference will be held in Beijing from July 9 to 11.

The conference will focus on hot topics in the Internet industry such as the integration of real economy and Internet technology, cyberspace administration and the industry’s development models, said Pei Wei, deputy secretary-general of the Internet Society of China, at a press conference Monday.

Over 20 forums and exhibitions on 5G, artificial intelligence, intellectual property protection and other topics will also be held at the conference.

This year’s event will be the 18th China Internet Conference.

Loi Tai Leng has undergone tremendous changes since the reporter first visited here six years ago. A cement road has been laid on the extremely narrow road; the VIP residence where the journalist once stayed was a log cabin but is now a multi-level house.

Vigilance remains high. “It is close to the chairman’s home. The SSAS needs to guarantee the absolute safety of the chairman and you. There are 24-hour security guards and electricity,” the spokesperson said.

A local resident told the Global Times that generators provide electric power between 6 pm to 10 pm, and they use solar energy during the daytime.

“The home will never be dark again …Loi Tai Leng has had mobile phone service since 2015 and we can even connect to the internet,” he said.

There are more than 600 households at the headquarters. In December 1999 when the headquarters was built, there were only 250 people living here.

“Loi Tai Leng used to be a barren mountain. But now there is a newly-built cement road. Electricity and water are available, vegetables are grown in open spaces and chicken and ducks are raised. Rice is also allocated to every household on a monthly basis. They [Local residents] have no problems in living,” said Yawd Serk.

There is also a school at the foot of the mountain with more than 700 students.

Yawd Serk said that Loi Tai Leng is the cradle of SSAS where many young people come here to study Shan State history, politics and intelligence and then return to promote political knowledge and ethnic culture among armed groups and ordinary people in different regions of Shan State.

“Those who want to join the armed group to fight the battle will receive several months’ military training,” he said.

Frankly speaking, I don’t think the rapid decline in China’s economic growth, that started in the second half of 2018, will easily stop or even slow, as there have been an increasing number of indicators that are confirming an economic slowdown. The harsh deleveraging is believed to be one of the main reasons behind the cooling economy.

It is of course, totally justified for the government officials to be worried about high leverage. The debt-to-asset ratio of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) is above 60 percent, but the real problem with SOEs’ high leverage is that there are too many zombie enterprises that are using leverage but make no or a negative contribution to the overall economic development.

Local governments’ leverage is another source of concern. Since 2014, the central government has allowed local governments to sell bonds by themselves, and has introduced a debt-swap program, which shifted about 11 trillion yuan ($1.63 trillion) of local government debt into bonds trading on the public markets. Yet, local governments’ debt has increased significantly again, since 2016, and no one knows how high the new local government debt levels are. While it is certainly necessary to deleverage at SOEs, zombie enterprises and local governments, the leverage of the private sector is actually not very high.

Moreover, high leverage for some companies, at a certain stage of their corporate development, may be just a normal need for that stage in their growth. As long as the capital chain is not broken, there is no need to be too concerned about high leverage. And it is not appropriate to simply compare China’s leverage ratio with that of the US, because our financial system is dominated by banks (which are mostly SOEs), instead of the market-based financing seen in the US.

To solve the high leverage problem, we must first pull off the two areas of remedial action: SOE reform and local government financing. To date, little progress has been achieved in these two areas. Of course, it is very difficult to push forward with such reforms, when there are so many vested interests. By comparison, it is much easier to implement macro-control policies like deleveraging. But macro-control policies cannot replace reform and by no means should be rushed. Unfortunately, our deleveraging measures and efforts seem to be too simplistic and strong.

In particular, the tightened asset management rules have blocked various financing channels. Even though the central bank has injected massive liquidity into the market, private enterprises as well as small- and micro-enterprises are still unable to tap the financing pool.

While the central bank has tried to support the real economy by lowering the reserve requirement ratios and expanding its balance sheet, the money still cannot reach the real economy due to these blocked financing channels. The US-China trade war may be a reason for the ongoing slide in the mainland stock market, but the “curbed” financing system must also have something to do with it, as this has led to the shortage of money in the real economy.

However, in general, with the global return of religion, the Western policy of separation of church and state has been seriously challenged. Different religions have tried to influence politics and continue to invade the public sphere, shaking the foundation of Western social stability.

Perceiving the importance of the separation of religion and state, the Chinese government has taken measures to promote secularization in the past years so as to protect social stability and prevent the penetration of religious fundamentalism.

Religious symbols were barred in China’s public service system many years ago. Chinese authorities also demanded that religious activities be conducted in specific places approved by the relevant administrative departments. There are exceptions that need exceptional approvals.

Some Western officials and media outlets are fond of smearing China’s efforts on the separation of church and state while ignoring that their own society faces the same challenge, and their governments must ultimately make the same choice. This is the best protection for the rights of a wider range of people of different faiths.

For example, in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, public servants were asked in late 2018 to speak Putonghua – the country’s common language – in public spaces and at workplaces. The BBC used this as an example to try to prove that China is cracking down on Islam in the region. BBC is wrong. Because asking public servants to speak the official language in the workplace is a basic principle of a modern society on the separation of church and state. This is not suppression of a certain religion, but keeping the principle of separation of church and state. It is similar to Quebec’s recent legislation move.

All that China has done and is doing in religious affairs serves the goal of maintaining stability in society. China is not a religious country but there are about 200 million religious people in China – three times the population of France. Thanks to the efforts of Chinese authorities, the country was able to keep stable and rapid development on track, providing people, including religious people, improved living standards and a more harmonious living environment.

Tik Tok, a popular Chinese video-sharing app, becomes part of daily life for Afraa Mohammed, an 11-year-old Kuwaiti girl.

Afraa, who is in sixth grade, focuses on increasing her audiences by broadcasting more videos. She said that a lot of her schoolmates are following her on Tik Tok.

The Tik Tok application has become a phenomenon in Kuwait now where girls and boys aged between 10 and 13 can be seen broadcasting at shopping malls and in the parks, especially in good weather.

School students are competing for more “likes” on the application.

“My daughter has more than one thousand followers, mostly friends from her school and abroad. She creates videos broadcasted on Tik Tok by editing footage in line with music with passion,” Afraa’s mother told Xinhua.

Some Kuwaiti people use Tik Tok to promote children’s products, such as Abu Omar, who sells Slime, a kind of toy with a slippery, gooey texture.

Tik Tok ranked on Sunday the fifth in the list of free apps in Kuwait, according to the Sensor Tower, which provides ratings for all applications in countries around the world.

The 12-year-old Ali Nasser said the most attracting thing about Tik Tok is that its video clips are not exceeding more than 15 seconds, in addition to the amazing editing tools that allow users to create better videos.

Yousef Nasser, Ali’s father, admitted that he faced difficulty to accept the app, fearing for the privacy of his child’s life.

“I convinced him to switch his account to private mood which is only for his friends and prevent comments, chat and video sharing,” said Yousef.

The original idea of Tik Tok is to represent a scene of lip-syncing song by the user for no longer than 15 seconds. While with the teenagers around the world were impressed by many challenges they faced, the application spread with varied content.

Some people use it to summarize how to prepare a dish, and others show how to prepare their artwork.

Tik Tok, known as Douyin in China, started in September 2016 and was widely spread in China. Now, it becomes one of Kuwaiti teenagers’ most favourable apps.

A series of incidents involving low-flying drones in restricted areas around major Chinese airports in 2017 had led to tighter usage regulations, which had an adverse impact on product sales.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China said commercial UAVs weighing more than 250 grams had to be registered under the owner’s real name from June 1, 2017.

Other domestic drone manufacturers are investing heavily in industry drones. EHang impressed the world with its concept of a passenger drone already at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2016. The 184, which is the world’s first autonomous aerial vehicle, can fly for up to 30 minutes at a maximum cruising speed of 160 km/h, and has an average cruise speed of 100 km/h.

In 2017, the company announced a partnership with Dubai’s government to use its Ehang 184 passenger-carrying drone in the city’s smart transportation system.

Derrick Xiong, co-founder of EHang, said with the rise in labor costs and rapid growth of smart delivery systems, EHang is poised to empower companies across industrial segments like courier services, logistics, retail and e-commerce, with its smart drones that offer safe and efficient functionality.

In 2018, it teamed up with supermarket chain Yonghui Superstores Co in smart retail and aerial drone food delivery. With the help of drones, the delivery time was reduced from at least 30 minutes to about 15 minutes, which ensures freshness of food and efficiency in delivery.

EHang said its automatic, intelligent and networked drone technology provides an integrated drone delivery solution for Super Species, Yonghui’s fresh food store.