Hinterland to benefit from wind power thrust

Technicians inspect wind farm operations in Hinggan League, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, in May 2023. WANG ZHENG/FOR CHINA DAILY

China’s rural areas are gearing up for a wind energy boom on a comprehensive utilization plan for the renewable power source, which is expected to further boost the development of clean energy in the nation.

The National Energy Administration has recently put in place a plan to further promote wind power in rural regions. This is an attempt to take advantage of the abundant and widely distributed wind energy resources, fully utilize scattered land in these regions and facilitate the green and low-carbon transformation of rural energy.

The administration encourages joint investment in small-scale wind projects in rural areas by wind power enterprises and local governments and emphasizes the importance of farmers increasing their income through the initiative.

The grid-connected price of electricity will be based on the current year’s policy for grid-connected new energy electricity prices, it said.

While wind power development in China has been mainly focused on large-scale projects in western regions, including Xizang autonomous region, Ningxia Hui autonomous region and Inner Mongolia autonomous region, the initiative opens up new market space for wind power in the country, said the administration.

It will also play a role in promoting development, expanding investment and stabilizing growth, said Wang Dapeng, deputy head of the new energy and renewable energy department at the NEA.

“Calculating based on the industry’s general expected rate of return of 6 percent to 8 percent, a 3 to 4-megawatt wind turbine can generate an additional income of 50,000 yuan ($6,900) to 100,000 yuan per year for the village collective,” said Wang.

“Further integration of rural wind power with distributed photovoltaics and biomass power generation in China’s countryside will help adjust the rural energy structure, promote rural energy revolution, and contribute to achieving the country’s dual-carbon goals.”

The initiative will drive the growth and expansion of related industrial clusters such as wind power equipment manufacturing, installation, and operation and maintenance, while also improving related supporting industries such as smart grids and energy storage technologies, said Qin Haiyan, secretary-general of the Chinese Wind Energy Association.

The wind power industry will usher in broader development opportunities, Qin added.

“China’s ambition to step up wind power in its rural regions will lead the wind power industry to explore a new development path beyond large-scale turbines, large bases and centralized systems,” the industry insider said.

“China possesses abundant wind energy resources distributed widely across the country. With breakthroughs in low wind speed technology, most regions, particularly the central, eastern, and southern areas which have relatively lower wind speeds, are now equipped with development conditions with potential resources available for development exceeding 3 billion kilowatts.”

Qin said several rural regions in China are facing high electricity prices while lacking the land resources to develop large-scale wind power plants, which makes utilization of distributed wind power an important way to achieve the country’s goal of carbon peak before 2030.

Workers install a fan blade onto a wind turbine at a power farm in Ningxia Hui autonomous region in January. YUAN HONGYAN/FOR CHINA DAILY

Immense potential

Solar power has already gained ground in China’s rural regions over the past few years, and has led to savings in rural communities by replacing expensive and inefficient traditional fuels.

China’s rural regions, encompassing over 90 percent of the nation’s total land area, hold immense potential for the development of rural renewable energies. According to a guideline underpinning green development in urban and rural areas released by the State Council, China’s Cabinet, green development will cover urban and rural areas comprehensively by 2035, with an increased cut in carbon emissions.

Qin said it is necessary for wind farms to be located near the source of power consumption. He also highlighted the importance of local grid operators to ensure wind power grid connection, with a focus on local and nearby consumption.

“Compared with cities, China’s rural areas have more empty spaces to install wind power systems at lower costs,” said Lin Boqiang, head of the China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy at Xiamen University.

“Since the development of distributed wind power in rural areas also leads to extra earnings for residents and helps reduce power expenses, local governments and power supply companies should continue to simplify processes to better tap the potential of distributed wind power in China’s rural regions as long as it is legal, compliant and beneficial to the industry.”

According to the Chinese Wind Energy Association, there are now approximately 690,000 administrative villages nationwide. Four 5-mW turbines on scattered land such as fields, village outskirts, and rural roads in 100,000 villages could lead to a wind power installed capacity of 2 billion kW, it said.

Currently, wind power development in China is primarily focused on large-scale projects, and the development of distributed wind power is slow, which restricts the market space for wind power in the country, it said.

According to Lin, energy demand in rural regions has been surging in recent years thanks to demand for heating in winter, accelerated modernization of agriculture and improved mechanization levels in agriculture.

“During the implementation of the rural vitalization strategy, new energy has been emerging as a significant driving force, with wind power showing great potential,” he said.

“The initiative, along with the integration of distributed photovoltaics, biomass power generation, geothermal energy, and other renewable energy sources, can adjust the rural energy structure, promote the rural energy revolution and contribute to achieving carbon peak and neutrality goals.”

In rural areas of China, wind energy resources are abundant and widely distributed. By fully utilizing scattered land in rural areas and promoting the development and utilization of wind power according to local conditions, it can significantly contribute to boosting the collective economy of villages and achieving the significant goals of carbon peak and neutrality, he added.

Li Fei, vice-president of domestic turbine maker Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co Ltd, said in addition to promoting the green and low-carbon transformation of rural energy, the measures are also likely to benefit wind developers and turbine manufacturers in the country.

Goldwind said the expansion of distributed wind power in China’s rural regions will bring broader development opportunities for the wind power industry.

However, considering the high construction costs, strict grid connection requirements, and various environmental limitations, the initiative sets a higher threshold for wind power technology and it is necessary that the companies ensure returns are predictable, Li said.

Therefore, it is essential to actively promote the integration of source, grid, load and storage, which will take in excess power from renewables when demand declines, and enable renewable facilities to function more like traditional power plants, he added.

Bejart Ballet Lausanne triumphantly returns to Beijing

Bejart Ballet Lausanne returns to the NCPA with performances from April 19 to 21. [Photo provided to China Daily]

After a remarkable 13-year hiatus, the renowned Bejart Ballet Lausanne made a triumphant return to the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, captivating audiences with a series of performances from April 19 to 21. The company, founded by choreographer Maurice Bejart in 1987, showcased four timeless classics, marking a momentous occasion in the world of dance.

A joyful mood at contemporary art exhibition in Guangzhou


Sacred Heart, a piece of US artist Jeff Koons’ Celebration series, is unveiled and installed in open air for display in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

US artist Jeff Koons says that childhood is where people accept and appreciate things as they are. His Celebration series of sculptures brings to the viewers the pure pleasure and playfulness as that of childhood.

Sacred Heart, a piece of Koons’ Celebration series, was recently unveiled in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, and is installed for a longtime display in open air.

The unveiling also opened a contemporary art exhibition that gathers the works of 24 artists from home and abroad, being held at the One Song Center of Guangzhou One Pengrui until May 12.

Visitors to the show, Guangzhou One Pengrui International Contemporary Art Exhibition, will have a savor of the works of international artists such as Damien Hirst of Britain and George Condo of the United States, as well as of Chinese artists including Xu Zhen and Chen Huanzhi.

Chinese Navy’s commitment is seen at Western Pacific Naval Symposium: Global Times editorial

The 19th biennial meeting of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) is held in Qingdao, Shandong Province, from April 21 to 24. Photo: VCG

The 19th biennial meeting of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) is held in Qingdao, Shandong Province, from April 21 to 24. Photo: VCG

The 19th biennial meeting of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) was being held in Qingdao, Shandong Province, from Sunday to Wednesday. More than 180 foreign delegates from 29 countries, including major naval (maritime) defense leaders from 20 countries, attended. US Pacific Fleet commander Stephen Koehler and Russian navy chief Alexander Moiseev led their respective delegations. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Navy. As a force of peace, civilization, and strength, the PLA Navy’s global influence and appeal continue to grow. The high level of participation and representation of delegations at this year’s meeting is a concrete manifestation of this influence.

The WPNS is a regional naval cooperation mechanism platform. After more than 30 years of development, it has become the regional naval multilateral cooperation mechanism that has produced the most achievements, the most vitality, and the greatest potential. China is one of the founding members of the mechanism, and this year, the PLA is hosting the WPNS again after a 10-year hiatus, with the theme “Seas of Shared Future” and three subtopics: the Global Security Initiative and maritime peace, maritime order based on maritime security cooperation and international laws, and global maritime governance. These three subtopics are a concrete manifestation of China’s concept and practice of a shared destiny of the oceans. Through cooperation between the Chinese Navy and other countries, it aims to uphold maritime peace and security and address maritime threats and challenges.

Being one of the most important maritime areas in the world, the Western Pacific region consists of several crucial straits and waterways that play a significant role in global trade and maritime traffic. The region is rich in islands and marine resources, involving the interests of many countries. Especially in areas with maritime disputes, preventing accidental conflicts, achieving common development, and ensuring regional security and maritime safety are common concerns for countries in the region. Peace is a key word of this year’s symposium and echoes the sentiments of most countries in the region. Particularly, in situations where some countries outside the region frequently engage in provocative military actions, maintaining regional peace and stability is not merely the responsibility of one or two nations but requires collective efforts from all countries in the region. The hosting of this year’s symposium by China is with such profound considerations and responsibilities.

China has always been straightforward in its actions, committed to peace without merely relying on diplomatic rhetoric. According to the agenda, this symposium will discuss and vote on issues such as the WPNS Business Charter, the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, Disaster Response Guide, and the unmanned system, aiming to provide guidance for reducing maritime military tensions in response to new changes. In order to ensure the success of the symposium, China has done a lot of preparatory work in advance. An observation from the symposium is that all member states expressed gratitude to the Chinese Navy for hosting the meeting in their speeches. Stephen Koehler, in his speech, also first expressed this gratitude towards China, while stating that the WPNS has provided an opportunity for naval leaders from various countries to communicate.

Foreign media have noticed that the Philippines did not send representatives to this symposium. In response, Chinese experts attending the meeting stated that as the host country of this year’s meeting, China extended invitations to all member states and observer countries and was not aware of the specific reasons for the Philippines’ absence. The Philippines’ unexplained absence is indeed puzzling. However, the same day as the symposium convened, the US and the Philippines launched the largest-ever Balikatan or “Shoulder-to-Shoulder” joint military exercise. Philippine military personnel even claimed that “the purpose of armed forces, why we exist, is really to prepare for war,” and “there is no sugarcoating it.” These statements clearly imply something, but regional countries have no time to speculate, let alone indulge them. The tide of history is here, and one or two countries cannot shake the collective efforts of the region to maintain maritime peace and tranquility.

This symposium also serves as a platform to showcase the growth and confident image of the Chinese Navy to the outside world. A major nation must have a strong navy; this is a profound lesson drawn from modern Chinese history. Over the past 75 years, the PLA Navy has grown from nothing to become a fully-fledged strategic military branch with comprehensive capabilities, including nuclear and conventional arms. It is accelerating its progress towards the goal of becoming a world-class navy in all aspects. Regardless of whether certain countries are willing to acknowledge it, this trend is unstoppable.

Meanwhile, the powerful Chinese Navy serves as a guardian of world peace and important stabilizing force in the current regional situation. The presence of representatives from so many countries at this symposium, gathering to discuss topics dedicated to achieving peace, precisely demonstrates this point. We also hope that countries can make good use of this platform to promote mutual understanding and trust, transcend differences in safeguarding regional and global maritime peace and stability, and collectively compose a new chapter in maritime civilization.

Chinese athletes seek Olympic qualifications through competitions

Huang Bokai of China competes in the Men's Pole Vault during 2024 Diamond League Xiamen on April 20, 2024 in Xiamen, China. Photo: VCG

Huang Bokai of China competes in the Men’s Pole Vault during 2024 Diamond League Xiamen on April 20, 2024 in Xiamen, China. Photo: VCG

Chinese athletes are making headlines at the World Athletics Diamond League series, which kicked off the 2024 season on Saturday in Xiamen, East China’s Fujian Province, with impressive performances from athletes like Liu Dezhu and Gong Lijiao.

As the track and field events for the Paris Olympics will take place at the Stade de France from August 1 to 11, Chinese track and field athletes are honing their skills to gear up for the competition.

After Swedish star Armand Duplantis invigorated the Diamond League race with a world record-setting pole vault of 6.24 meters, Chinese distance runner Liu Dezhu set a new pace in the 800 meters race, lowering the previous national record of 1:46.32, set 10 years ago by Teng Haining, to 1:45.66.

Apart from Liu’s breakthrough, China, as the host, had many top athletes compete, earning one gold and three bronze medals in the events. On top of Gong Lijiao winning the women’s shot put with a throw of 19.72 meters, Huang Bokai, Feng Bin, and Su Wen won bronze medals in the men’s pole vault, women’s discus throw, and men’s triple jump, respectively.

With the conclusion of the National Indoor Athletics Championships at the end of March, followed by the National Athletics Grand Prix and the World Athletics Diamond League, the track and field season has transitioned from indoors to outdoors.

Liu’s national record-setting performance, however, is still shy of an Olympic qualification of 1:44.70. His coach Shi Peng has said the team will strive for more opportunities to compete and aim to secure Olympic qualifications through world ranking points.

As the outdoor season unfolds, the Chinese team is also accelerating its pace in seeking Olympic qualifications. Xie Zhenye, the Asian record holder in the men’s 200 meters, qualified for the Olympics with a 20.15 second finish in the US earlier in April.

Besides Xie’s qualification, Chen Jiapeng finished a 100 meters in 10.08 seconds, making him the fifth Chinese male sprinter to break the 10.10-second barrier after Su Bingtian, Xie, Zhang Peimeng and Chen Guanfeng.

Though some promising signs have appeared, Chinese track and field still faces considerable challenges.

One major challenge is the one faced by the men’s 4×100-meter relay team, who are considered one of the pillars that underlines team spirit in the individual-dominated sport of running.

The team, consisting of Xie and veteran sprinter Su Bingtian, will make their final push for Olympic qualification in May at the World Relay Championships, following a mediocre performance in March with 38.99 seconds, slower than their record of 37.79 seconds.

With another Diamond League race to be held in Suzhou, East China’s Jiangsu Province, this weekend, Chinese athletes will have fresh chances to attain Olympic qualification if better performances are delivered.

More efforts are needed to increase the squad depth of Chinese athletics, as more and more athletics events are to be held in the country, led by a World Championships in 2027 in Beijing.

If China wants to take the lead in the athletics competition at the Paris Olympics, the team will need to make more effort. Fortunately, Chinese athletes are always prepared to rise to the challenge, fueled by their resilience and unwavering determination.

China issues alerts for severe convective weather, heavy rain

The China Meteorological Administration on Monday issued a blue alert for severe convective weather and a yellow alert for heavy rains, forecasting thunderstorms, gales, hail and downpours in southern parts of the country.

Continuous heavy rainfall hit Qingyuan City, Guangdong Province, south China, April 20, 2024. /CFP

Continuous heavy rainfall hit Qingyuan City, Guangdong Province, south China, April 20, 2024. /CFP

The range of heavy rainfall in southern China is expected to shrink, but precipitation will not completely cease. Over the next three days, parts of the area will still experience rainfall, with some areas in central-southern Guangdong Province and southeastern Fujian Province expecting heavy to torrential rain, locally accompanied by severe convective weather. 

The forecast said that there would be heavy to torrential rain in parts of southeastern Fujian, central-southern Guangdong and eastern Guangxi on Monday, with some areas in southeastern Guangdong experiencing heavy rainfall (100-160 millimeters). Parts of southeastern Guangxi and coastal areas, central-southern Guangdong and coastal areas will experience thunderstorm or hail, with local winds reaching force 11 or above. Meanwhile, parts of eastern and southern Fujian, southern Guizhou, Guangxi, Guangdong and other areas will experience short-term heavy rainfall, with hourly rainfall of 30-50 millimeters, locally exceeding 70 millimeters.

The view before a thunderstorm hit Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province, south China, April 18, 2024. /CFP

The view before a thunderstorm hit Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province, south China, April 18, 2024. /CFP

Meteorological experts remind that recent heavy rainfall in Guangxi, Guangdong, Hunan and Jiangxi, combined with other overlapping precipitation areas, has saturated soil moisture. The public should be highly vigilant against the possibility of disasters such as flash floods, debris flows and landslides after heavy or prolonged rainfall. The public should avoid visiting mountainous areas and pay attention to preventing the adverse effects of severe convective weather.

China’s green and low-carbon industry enriches global sustainability landscape

People enjoying springtime riding in Yanqing District, Beijing, China, April 1. /CFP

People enjoying springtime riding in Yanqing District, Beijing, China, April 1. /CFP

Editor’s note: Xue Tianhang is a researcher at the Research Center for Regional Coordinated Development, Zhejiang University. The article reflects the author’s opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN. It has been translated from Chinese and edited for brevity and clarity.

In recent years, China’s green and low-carbon industry has expanded rapidly, contributing to a significantly greater portion of economic growth. The country’s establishment of a green and low-carbon industrial system has picked up pace. As of 2023, China hosted 5,095 national-level green factories, 371 green industrial parks and over 600 green supply chain management enterprises. The innovation capability of green and low-carbon technologies has been considerably enhanced. From 2011 to 2020, the number of patent applications filed by China for environment-related technology inventions was close to 60 percent of the world’s total, making it the most active country in environmental technology innovation.

Furthermore, the output of green and low-carbon products has witnessed remarkable growth. In 2023, the production of the so-called “new three” products – namely, electric vehicles, solar cells and lithium-ion batteries for automobiles – increased by 30.3 percent, 54 percent, and 22.8 percent year on year, respectively. The production of green energy products such as hydroelectric generators, wind turbines and charging piles rose by 35.3 percent, 28.7 percent and 36.9 percent year on year, respectively, all significantly higher than the economic growth rate. The proportion of green and low-carbon industries in the macroeconomy continues to rise.

Since 2012, China has registered an average annual economic growth of 6.6 percent with a 3 percent annual increase in energy consumption, resulting in a 26.4 percent decrease in energy consumption per unit of GDP. This translates into saving 1.4 billion tonnes of standard coal and reducing emissions of 2.94 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, making China one of the global leaders in reducing energy intensity.

A view of the grid-connected power generation capacity of a complementary power generation project reached 650 megawatts in Binzhou, Shangdong Province, China. /CFP

A view of the grid-connected power generation capacity of a complementary power generation project reached 650 megawatts in Binzhou, Shangdong Province, China. /CFP

While focusing on its own green and low-carbon transformation, China has maintained an open attitude in extensive international collaboration, sharing its achievements in green and low-carbon development with the world and actively fostering international partnerships in resource conservation and ecological and environmental protection, thus ushering in opportunities for mutual growth and common prosperity to all countries.

China has initiated 10 low-carbon demonstration zones and 100 projects for climate change mitigation and adaptation in developing countries and implemented more than 200 projects to aid foreign countries in tackling climate change challenges. It has initiated the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) International Green Development Coalition, built the BRI Environmental Big Data Platform and trained 3,000 green development talents for more than 120 participating countries.

Wind power and photovoltaic products from China have been exported to over 200 countries and regions in the world, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by about 573 million tonnes for other countries. The total emission reduction amount has exceeded 2.8 billion tonnes, accounting for 41 percent of the global carbon reduction through renewable energy during the same period. According to the report of the International Energy Agency, the average cost per kilowatt-hour of wind power and photovoltaic power generation projects worldwide has cumulatively decreased by more than 60 percent and 80 percent, respectively, over the past decade, with a significant portion attributed to China’s innovation, manufacturing and engineering.

At Suzhou’s Taicang Port International container terminal, China’s Jiangsu Province, a large number of new energy vehicles are being shipped worldwide, April 19, 2024. /CFP

At Suzhou’s Taicang Port International container terminal, China’s Jiangsu Province, a large number of new energy vehicles are being shipped worldwide, April 19, 2024. /CFP

The pursuit of green and low-carbon transformation is a common aspiration of all countries. Upholding the concept of a human community with a shared future and striving to enhance the well-being of all mankind, China remains committed to working with all stakeholders to advance the development of the green and low-carbon industry, build the foundation of ecological civilization, keep to the path of green development, safeguard our green home on Earth and promote the construction of a better world.

Chinese design glitters in Milan

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China took center stage at Italy’s prestigious International Milan Furniture Fair and Design Week (Salone Del Mobile), now in its 62nd edition.

Marco Sabetta is the event’s General Manager and told CGTN Europe the event saw record crowds. “We think we will have (had) over 300,000 visitors these days coming from 180 different countries,” said Sabetta.

‌The Satellite Salone is dedicated to young designers and seen by some as the event’s jewel in the crown. Leyun Cai is among dozens of students from Tongji University’s Shanghai International College of Design and Innovation who are participating.

‌They designed a multi-media spacecraft for their project titled ‘Fly Me to the Moon.’

People visit the Interni Design Re-Evolution at Universita’ Statale during the Milan Design Week 2024. /Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

People visit the Interni Design Re-Evolution at Universita’ Statale during the Milan Design Week 2024. /Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

Leyun described Salone Del Mobile as a unique event, “a really good opportunity for us for the exchange of culture and ideas”.

Liu Yu is a student from the Academy of Arts and Design at Tsinghua University and said the fair is an opportunity to show the world original Chinese works.

His designs explore the intersection between tradition and innovation, “like my bookshelf, it can fit in the modern room, but it reflects unique oriental feelings.”

Sabetta believes China is gaining increasing international recognition as a design hub.‌ “There are a lot of important design schools in China, so we are happy to have them here for the Salone Satellite,” he said.

Chinese designs have impressed visitors. /CGTN

Chinese designs have impressed visitors. /CGTN

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It’s not only at the fair where Italian and international designers are showcasing their work but also on the streets of Milan, with events, exhibitions, and installations across the city.‌

The ‘Zona Sarpi’ is the Chinese hub for Milan Design Week and is where renowned architect Ma Yansong unveiled his new chair for Italian company Boloni.

‌Ma Yansong says design is a dialogue. “You can use design to communicate, between different nations, different cultures and between the designers and users. For example, my chair, which is inspired by nature, invites the user to sit in various positions and to reflect,” said Ma.

Vittorio Sun Qun is the Founder of the Zona Sarpi Project at Milan Design Week and is astounded by the participation of Chinese institutions and companies. He said: “We have 13 cities, 7 universities, and 63 brands that have joined our exhibition.”

Michele Brunello is the Artistic Director of the Zona Sarpi Project and praised the “incredible boost of energy, curiosity, relations” at the event. Brunello added: “What is more important is that we create the platform to exchange with the local community of Milan design.”

Milan Design Week officially finished on Sunday but organizers say their work with the Chinese community will continue.

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Uncertainty lingers after apparent Israeli response to Iran’s strike

A large billboard depicting Iranian missiles is displayed on a public square, Tehran, Iran, April 19, 2024. /CFP

A large billboard depicting Iranian missiles is displayed on a public square, Tehran, Iran, April 19, 2024. /CFP

Open confrontation between Iran and Israel has stretched into a new phase filled with uncertainties after Israel on Friday apparently responded to Iran’s first-ever direct strike on Israeli territory.

Iran last Saturday launched a salvo of explosive drones and missiles on Israel in retaliation for a suspected Israeli strike on its diplomatic compound in Syria earlier this month, further raising the risk of a full-blown regional conflict since Hamas’ October 7 attack on southern Israel.

While most of the Iranian launches were intercepted, causing no fatalities, media reports say Israel carried out a counterattack with drones and possibly missiles, targeting an Iranian Air Force base near the city of Isfahan.

Iranian officials made no reference to Israel when describing the incident, which they said caused no damage or casualties, signaling no plans for a retaliation that Tehran had warned it would launch should it come under a major Israeli attack.

The nature and extent of Friday’s attack are not yet clear, Sami Ramadani, an Iraqi-born lecturer in sociology at London Metropolitan University and writer on Middle East affairs, told CGTN.

“We don’t know whether the attack came from Israel or from within Iran, and I don’t think Iran was downplaying it,” he said, casting doubt on media speculations that Tehran did so to stave off a need to retaliate, a move that would be consistent with its deescalatory tone over the past week.

Israel has kept silent since the attack, which is widely believed to be a message demonstrating its capability to strike deep inside Iran, also in proximity to nuclear facilities, while averting major escalations.

“If it becomes clear that the strike did come from Israel, Iran’s reaction might be different,” Ramadani said, adding that a distinction will be made to determine whether it was “an internal security matter or external aggression.”

The risk of a full-blown regional conflict had prompted the U.S., Israel’s closest ally, to urge it not to pursue any counterattacks against Iran, and that has reportedly translated into what appeared to be Friday’s limited strike, albeit with a caveat.

According to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, a Qatari media outlet, Washington has given its consent to Israel’s plan for a military offensive in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, reversing previous opposition in exchange for a restrained response to Iran’s strike.

Rafah, which has so far escaped an Israeli invasion amid its six-month-long war against Hamas, has been packed with Palestinians fleeing from other parts of the coastal enclave, and United Nations officials have warned of a dramatic exacerbation of a humanitarian disaster should Israel go ahead with its plan.

However, with Israel focusing on its confrontation with Iran, it might have to delay its planned operation in Rafah, which the Israeli military says is Hamas’ last stronghold, Yu Guoqing, a research fellow at the Institute of West Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told CGTN.

“Such delays could sustain at least until after Israel has responded in a way it deems satisfactory,” Yu said.

Similar to the tough position that Iran had been in as it felt compelled to respond to Israel’s Syria strike while avoiding war, Israel has been facing an equally challenging dilemma.

To heed the calls of its Western allies, Israel had to resist domestic pressure for a large-scale counterattack and forgo its longstanding strategy of projecting deterrence against regional foes.

Today’s Israel faces a largely different environment in the region than it did in the past, “with its improved relations with Arab countries diminishing the urgency of showing strength,” Yu said.

Some Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, had reportedly shared intelligence about Iran’s strike with the U.S., albeit rejecting a U.S. request to use its base to block the strike. Jordan, whose forces shot down some of the drones headed toward Israel, is caught in an awkward position as it compromises the kingdom’s stance against the Gaza war.

This was the first time that Arab states in the region showed silent support for Israel in its confrontation with Iran, marking “a major change from the past,” Meir Litvak, chair of the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University, told CGTN.

In the meantime, Israel also had to weigh how the counterattack might affect its regional standing without angering those represented by Saudi Arabia, Yu added. Bolstering the assumption that Friday’s attack was indeed Israel’s “limited and calculated” response were media reports about Israel’s cancellations of at least two strikes during the past week, as well as Gulf states’ forceful appeals for only a restrained reprisal.

Despite Friday’s strike causing no immediate exacerbation of the situation, tensions remain high as Israel’s clashes with Iran-aligned forces have persisted. Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite movement, has engaged Israeli troops in an escalation of mutual attacks in the past few days, while an Iraqi militia group claimed on Saturday a drone attack on Israel.

Despite what Israel and the West describe as Iran’s proxies, “these forces have their own local issues and reasons to stop Israel from its military operation in Gaza, and the situation will escalate further if Israel invades Rafah,” Ramadani said.

Against its wish to deescalate, Iran will continue to back them, he added.

Prior to recent escalations, Hezbollah had told the top commander of Iran’s elite force that it would fight Israel on its own, a pledge aimed at not drawing Iran into open confrontation with Israel, according to a Reuters report.

As for now, however, Litvak said that in the absence of a major Israeli attack on Iran, “they are more likely to continue what they do – a limited war of attrition against Israel.”