• China registered a record output of 20 million New Energy Vehicles. Rolled off from the GAC Aion New Energy Automobile Co Ltd. run production line, the 20 millionth NEV marked Chinese NEV industry’s entry into a ‘new stage of large-scale, globalised and high-quality development’ according to Fu Bingfeng, executive vice-president and secretary general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). The announcement was made by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology at the ceremony in Guangzhou where the vice minister articulated that NEV is to be the main direction of the transformation, upgrading and green development of the global automobile industry, and is also the strategic choice for the high-quality development of China's automobile sector. Within the first five months of 2023, China produced over 3 million units and sold 2.94 million units of NEVs, up 45.1 percent and 46.8 percent year on year, respectively.

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the 23rd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. In the virtual meeting setup, he said that the SCO must rise to the call of the times, keep in mind its founding mission, and stay in unity and coordination to bring more certainty and positive energy to world peace and development. Member states should step up strategic communication and coordination, bridge differences through dialogue, maintain regional peace and safeguard common security, Xi said. He called for upgrading SCO security cooperation, and crack down hard on the forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism such as the "East Turkistan" elements as well as expand cooperation in the nontraditional security fields, including digital, biological and outer space security. China also proposed instituting cooperation on sovereign digital currency and promoted the establishment of a development bank within the organisation. 

  • Hebei Province launched its new international multimodal transport route to Central Asia. The route relies on railways and highways to transport goods to Central Asian countries and is expected to further promote the development of economic and trade relations between China and Uzbekistan. The transport route project was initiated with the departure of a train carrying over 1,000 tonnes of goods from Langfang City in Hebei. It is expected to arrive at Kashgar City in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region from where the goods will be transported via cross-border highways. They will be carried by train again after reaching Kyrgyzstan and transported to the final destination of Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The route from China to Uzbekistan is about 6,000 km long, and the trip is estimated to be completed in about 12 days according to the China Railway Beijing Group Co., Ltd. 

  • Fleet of Chinese-made electric buses were rolled out by the Cyprus Public Transport authority. Built by Chinese automaker Yutong, the battery-powered single-deck "King Long'' buses span 12 metres in length with a capacity of 85 passengers, including four priority seats and six foldable seats. Alexandros Kamberos, business development manager for Cyprus Public transport articulated that ‘these buses are special, they are fully electric, are equipped with USB chargers, and provide 5G internet connectivity’. The Minister of Transport, Communications and Works also made it clear that having electric buses running around the city is one step forward towards Cyprus’ mission to reach zero carbon by 2050,  adding that ‘it's a first step in many more to come’. In the statement released thanking the Chinese company for the vehicles, authorities of Cyprus also said that the country welcomes any change that will bring over better quality public transport for the island.  

  • China and Honduras jointly announced their intention to negotiate a bilateral free trade agreement. The news was confirmed in a statement made by Wang Wentao, minister of commerce, and Fredis Cerrato, minister of economic development of Honduras, following the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in  March. The proposed FTA is set to enhance pragmatic cooperation in the sectors of economics and trade and aims to strengthen investment and cooperation across various fields. In the first five months on 2023, China and Honduras saw their trade value increase by 14.9 percent year-on-year to $740 million according to the data from the General Administration of Customs. Currently, China imports majorly coffee, fruit and aquatic products from Honduras and exports clothing, machinery, construction material, computers, furniture, toys as well as other daily necessities to Honduras. As for the areas of cooperation between the companies of the two nations, it is mainly limited to the agricultural sector with Honduras  exporting a few agricultural products to China. With the fruition of the FTA, cooperation is expected to be enhanced to include the sectors of investment, energy, telecommunications and infrastructure.

  • China and Morocco signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance bilateral agricultural cooperation. The MoU was signed in Rabat, Morocco by Tang Renjian, China's minister of agriculture and rural affairs and Mohamed Sadiki, the Moroccan minister of agriculture, maritime fisheries, rural development, water and forests. The MoU solidified the intention of the two countries to cooperate in the fields of distant-water fishing, aquatic products processing technology, organic agriculture, agricultural digitalisation, irrigation techniques, and water management. The Chinese representative outlined their fruitful cooperation with Morocco in the fields of vegetable variety cultivation, cultivation technology, veterinary drug and vaccine research and development while also articulating China’s willingness to cooperate with Morocco on animal disease prevention and control, dry land water-saving agriculture and conservation of marine fishery resources among other areas. The Moroccan minister gave a detailed introduction of the country's agricultural situation and proposed development measures while highlighting Morocco’s view of the MoU as an opportunity to raise the level of China-Morocco agricultural cooperation.


  • Fictional university creates ripples across social media : The idea took shape when a group of students posted jokes online about the possibility of setting up a university amid China’s competitive university recruitment season. They dedicated it to students from the four provinces of Shandong, Shanxi, Henan, and Hebei, where competition for China’s national college entrance examination is particularly fierce. Named ‘The Shanhe University’, a portmanteau of the names of the provinces, it has its own motto, courses, and a roster of illustrious alumni including Han dynasty generals and Tang dynasty poets. The meme quickly went viral among Chinese students across social media platforms who soon created a website along with faculty lists and even an admissions brochure. Du Fu, the Tang dynasty poet, was named Shanhe University’s principal. One user even calculated that the number of high school students taking the gaokao annually was over 3.4 million and if each student contributed 1,000 yuan ($140), the total funds raised could turn the idea into a tangible reality. Several group chats also emerged on Weibo and WeChat with each tagged as a different department of Shanhe University. Many are now contemplating turning the idea into something useful with users posting that the website could be made into a space to share online courses about all subjects and turned into “a university in the real sense”.


  • Recent years have marked China’s growing rapport with Cyprus. The latter rolling out Chinese-made public transport vehicles is just a small part of the dynamic and extensive relations the two countries share. Cyprus’ geographical location in proximity to the Mediterranean, EU membership, and importance as a transshipment hub have drawn interest from Beijing. In November 2021, China and Cyprus formally announced their strategic partnership. The country is expected to be a major part of China’s expansion, considering that the Eastern Mediterranean has emerged as a crucial component of China’s Maritime Silk Road Initiative (MSRI), half of the larger BRI framework. Today Chinese state-owned or state-linked corporations have investments in almost every key Cypriot sector, from real estate to natural resources, transport to aviation. India too maintains extensive relations with Cyprus. Indian companies have invested in the Cypriot sectors of real estate, financial services, shipping, IT and Business Process Outsourcing etc and exports a variety of goods including, iron, steel, ceramic products, and electrical machinery. The two countries, in 2022, signed three key agreements on defence and military cooperation, migration and International Solar Alliance. However, in the fields of trade and tourism there is much unexplored potential. Trade in pharmaceuticals, educational services, agricultural products as well as tourism promotion through packages, collaboration and cultural exchanges are areas that need attention. As Cyprus is looking to reduce its reliance on foreign imports and increase domestic capability, particularly through natural gas explorations, India can invest in these projects and conduct joint explorations as well. India also requires a more strategic outlook in its relationship with Cyprus considering that Cyprus is a crucial gateway to both Asia and Europe. In this regard, maritime security and partnerships can come in handy. Collaboration can be made possible in ensuring maritime security including joint efforts to combat piracy, maritime terrorism, and other transnational crimes. Sharing information, conducting joint patrols, and coordinating maritime surveillance are also important along with port development and management. Overall, India needs to adopt a more holistic approach in its relations with Cyprus to establish mutually beneficial relations as well as gain strategic and economic advantage with respect to Cyprus as well as the wider Mediterranean region. 

Prepared By

Maria Sony is currently pursuing my master's in International Studies from Symbiosis International University. She completed her bachelor's in History honours from St. Stephen's College, New Delhi. She has a keen interest in Asian area studies and soft power projections. She also loves learning new languages and she is currently completing a course in Mandarin.

CiCM 5th July 2023

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