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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is visiting China for two days, just a week after meeting President Donald Trump.

Kim Jong-un will most probably discuss sanctions and the commitment he made at the summit, in general terms, to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

China, North Korea’s only economic ally, has already suggested sanctions against North Korea could be eased.

Meanwhile, South Korea and the US have confirmed they have suspended planning for their next joint military drills.

That follows a pledge made by President Trump at the Singapore summit.

Image source Wikimedia

Trump-Kim Summit: Donald Trump Praises Historic Talks With North Korean Leader

Trump-Kim Summit To Take Place at Capella Hotel on Singapore’s Sentosa Island

The visit to China is Kim Jong-un’s third since March, when his first trip abroad since taking office was to meet President Xi Jinping.

Kim Jong-un’s latest visit was, unusually, reported by Chinese state media. However, it gave no details on the agenda.

On June 12, President Trump and Kim Jong-un signed what the US president called a “comprehensive” agreement.

North Korea agreed to denuclearization – something it had also committed to in talks with the South – while President Trump said the US would end its joint military exercises with South Korea.

Ending the war games had been a long-standing demand by both North Korea and China.

However, both South Korea and Japan – the US’s other main ally in Asia – said the joint drills were very important.

President Trump’s announcement appeared to catch South Korea off guard and there was confusion how it would be implemented.

There was also confusion over President Trump calling the drills “provocative”, a term hitherto used by North Korea to describe them. The US had always insisted they are purely defensive in nature.

There are about 29,000 US soldiers based in the South and each year the US and South Korea regularly conduct large scale military drills.

The next military drill was scheduled for August with some 17,500 US military personnel due to take part.

The White House plans to announce sanctions against China on March 22 after determining that the country is encouraging the theft and transfer of intellectual property from US businesses.

The Trump administration said the actions come after years of talks about the issue that failed to produce change.

The actions are expected to include tariffs, as well as other measures.

The plans have stoked fears of a wider trade war.

According to media, the White House is considering between $30 billion and $60 billion in tariffs as well as measures that would restrict investment.

Trade officials also said that the US may also seek to bring complaints to the World Trade Organization.

The US’s top trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, told members of Congress on March 21 the US is looking to put “maximum pressure on China and minimum pressure on US consumers”.

Image source Flickr

US Launches Investigation into China’s Intellectual Property Policies

A US trade official, who spoke to reporters as part of a briefing, said the US has evidence that China requires companies to create local partnerships to enter the Chinese market, as a way of pressuring them into technology transfer.

The US also found evidence that China steers investments in the US to strategic industries, and conducts and supports cyber attacks.

The findings come from a review of China’s practices that President Donald Trump ordered in August, called a 301 investigation.

According to section 301 of the trade act, the US government has given itself the power to unilaterally impose sanctions against countries which it decides are not trading fairly.

President Trump has repeatedly railed against the massive US trade deficit with China.

There is growing concern in the US that China is seeking technology that could be deployed for military purposes.

Congress is also weighing legislation that would boost the government’s power to review foreign business deals, citing the threat posed by state-backed acquisition of US companies.

China has said there would be no winner from any trade war.

On March 20, the last day of the annual sitting of the National People’s Congress, China’s Premier Le Keqiang said he hoped both sides could remain “calm”.

The Chinese prime minister also said he hoped the US would ease restrictions on exports of high-tech goods to China.

China’s foreign ministry says it has lodged a complaint with the US after Donald Trump spoke to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen in a phone call.

China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province. US policy set in 1979 cut all formal relations with Taiwan.

However, Donald Trump’s transition team said he and Tsai Ing-wen noted “close economic, political, and security ties” in a phone call.

China said it had lodged a “solemn representation” with Washington.

According to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, China urged the US “to cautiously, properly handle Taiwan issue to avoid unnecessary disturbance to Sino-US relations”.Taiwan elections Tsai Ing wen

Earlier, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi dismissed the call as a “petty trick” by Taiwan, Chinese state media said.

Donald Trump tweeted on December 2 that Tsai Ing-wen had called Donald Trump to congratulate him on winning the US election.

His team said that the US president-elect had also congratulated Tsai Ing-wen on becoming the president of Taiwan last January.

It is highly unusual for a US president or president-elect to speak to a Taiwanese leader directly.

Following media reports pointing out the risks of angering China, Donald Trump tweeted: “Interesting how the US sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.”

The White House has said Donald Trump’s conversation does not signal any change in US policy. And according to media reports, the White House learned of the call only after it had happened.

Donald Trump’s spokeswoman said he was “well aware” of US policy towards Taiwan.

The split between China and Taiwan goes back to 1949, when the Republic of China (ROC) government fled the mainland to Taiwan. After 1945, it held China’s seat on the UN Security Council and was, for a while, recognized by many Western nations as the only Chinese government.

In 1971, the UN switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing and the ROC government was forced out. Only a handful of countries now recognize Taiwan’s government.

The US cut formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979, expressing its support for Beijing’s “One China” concept, which states that Taiwan is part of China.

China has hundreds of missiles pointing towards Taiwan, and has threatened to use force if it seeks independence.

President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s first female leader, led the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to a landslide victory in the January 2016 election.

The DPP has traditionally leaned towards independence from China. President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration does not accept the One China policy.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it opposed any official interaction or military contact between the US and Taiwan, according to the People’s Daily, a Communist Party mouthpiece.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the conversation between Donald Trump and Tsai Ing-wen was “just a petty trick by Taiwan” that he believed would not change US policy toward China, state media reported.

“The One China policy is the cornerstone of the healthy development of China-US relations and we hope this political foundation will not be interfered with or damaged,” he was quoted as saying.

The comment was repeated in a formal statement by the Foreign Ministry reported by Xinhua.

Despite the cut in formal ties nearly four decades ago, the US has still maintained friendly non-official relations with Taiwan.

Following Donald Trump’s phone call, the White House said the US remained firmly committed to its “One China” policy.

A power plant collapse has killed at least 40 people in China’s Jiangxi province.

The accident took place in Fengcheng where a cooling tower was under construction.

Photo XHnews

Photo XHnews

According to China’s Xinhua news agency, there were a number of people still trapped at the scene.

Jiangxi province’s fire services said 32 fire trucks and 212 soldiers had been deployed.

A total of 68 people were at the construction site at the time of the accident.

Images posted by Chinese media showed iron pipes and concrete slabs lying on the ground inside the large cooling tower.

According to Jiangxi Daily, two 550ft-high cooling towers were being built at the site as part of a project to add two 1,000-megawatt coal-fired power units to the power plant.

The project will cost 7.67 billion yuan ($1.11 billion) .

Fatal accidents are common at industrial sites in China and there have been growing demands for more stringent safety standards.

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Two democratically elected Hong Kong lawmakers have been barred from taking office by Beijing.

Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung, who represent the Youngspiration political party, won seats in September elections to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo).

The pro-independence elected lawmakers have refused to pledge allegiance to Beijing when being sworn in.

After using a derogatory term to refer to the mainland and declaring Hong Kong was not part of China during their swearing-in session in October, they were barred from office.

Image source AP

Image source AP

Beijing has now interpreted a section of Hong Kong law to mean any official who does not swear the oath properly cannot take office, said state media.

The move comes after weeks of chaos in the Hong Kong legislature.

There were also protests, and some scuffles, in Hong Kong on November 6, with at least four arrests.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive CY Leung said his government would “fully implement” the ruling.

Hong Kong is semi-autonomous under the “one country, two systems” framework in place since it was returned to China in 1997.

Hong Kong’s mini constitution, the Basic Law, states Beijing still has the final say in how to interpret its laws.

The interpretation by Beijing’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), marks Beijing’s most far-reaching intervention in Hong Kong since the handover.

Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching belong to the Youngspiration party, which sprang from the 2014 Occupy Central pro-democracy protests. They have called for Hong Kong to break away from China entirely.

Their attempts included using a variation of a derogatory word for China, and displaying a pro-independence banner.

Their oaths were invalidated amid chaotic scenes in the Legislative Council (LegCo).

China’s intervention came before a local court could issue its own ruling on whether Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching could be sworn in again.

New finds suggest that China and the West were in contact more than 1,500 years before Marco Polo arrived in Asia.

Archaeologists say inspiration for the Terracotta Warriors, found at the Tomb of the First Emperor near today’s Xian, may have come from Ancient Greece.

Researchers also say ancient Greek artisans could have been training locals there in the Third Century BC.

Marco Polo’s 13th Century travel to China had been thought the first by a European.

Senior Archaeologist Li Xiuzhen, from the Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum Site Museum said: “We now have evidence that close contact existed between the First Emperor’s China and the West before the formal opening of the Silk Road. This is far earlier than we formerly thought.”

A separate study shows European-specific mitochondrial DNA has been found at sites in China’s westernmost Xinjiang Province, suggesting that Westerners may have settled, lived and died there before and during the time of the First Emperor.

Image source Wikimedia

Image source Wikimedia

Farmers first discovered the 8,000 terracotta figures buried less than a mile from the tomb of China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang in 1974.

But there was no tradition of building life-sized human statues in China before the tomb was created. Earlier statues were simple figurines about 7.9ins in height.

To explain how such an enormous change in skill and style could have happened, Dr. Li Xiuzhen believes that influences must have come from outside China.

“We now think the Terracotta Army, the Acrobats and the bronze sculptures found on site have been inspired by ancient Greek sculptures and art,” she said.

According to Prof. Lukas Nickel from the University of Vienna, statues of circus acrobats recently found at the First Emperor’s tomb support this theory.

Lukas Nickel believes the First Emperor was influenced by the arrival of Greek statues in Central Asia in the century following Alexander the Great, who died in 323BC.

“I imagine that a Greek sculptor may have been at the site to train the locals,” he said.

Other discoveries include new evidence that the First Emperor’s tomb complex is much bigger than first thought and 200 times bigger than Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.

They also include the mutilated remains of women, believed to have been high-ranking concubines of the First Emperor, and the skull of a man with a crossbow bolt embedded in it.

The skull is believed to have belonged to the First Emperor’s eldest son, thought to have been killed along with others during a power struggle after the emperor’s death.

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At least 22 people died after a group of residential buildings collapsed in eastern China, state media reports.

According to the Xinhua news agency, the incident on October 10 saw four buildings in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, reduced to rubble.

Image source AP

Image source AP

The buildings were reportedly built by villagers in the 1970s and were in a poor condition.

Most victims were migrant workers who had been renting cheap rooms.

Six people have been pulled out of the rubble alive.

One survivor was a young girl who was protected by the bodies of her dead parents, reported the Global Times.

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Super typhoon Meranti has hit mainland China after battering Taiwan with its strongest storm in 21 years.

The super typhoon, with gusts of up to 140 mph, killed one person and left half a million homes without power in Taiwan.

Meranti made landfall near China’s south-eastern city of Xiamen on September 15, having lost some power.

Dozens of flights and train services in southern China have been cancelled and tens of thousands of people evacuated.

Image source Wikipedia

Image source Wikipedia

Forecaster Hsieh Pei-yun told AFP: “It is the strongest typhoon to hit Taiwan in 21 years in terms of maximum sustained wind near the centre.”

Typhoon Meranti has made landfall at the start of a three-day holiday in China for the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Residents were told to stay indoors and ships ordered to head back to harbor, while people in Pingtung were told to leave their homes.

According to Taiwanese officials, one person was killed and 38 were injured.

The storm prompted warnings about possible landslides in mountainous areas.

Schools and offices were closed in most eastern and southern counties, while power cuts affected 650,000 households.

Electricity poles and trees were uprooted by winds, with trucks overturned and roofs blown off.

Taiwan is often hit by powerful storms, with super typhoon Dujuan killing three people and leaving more than 300 injured in Taiwan in 2015.

In July, three people were killed and hundreds injured when typhoon Nepartak hit Taiwan’s east coast.

Another typhoon, Malakas, is expected to approach Taiwan on September 16 and 17, but is unlikely to make landfall.

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China has ratified the Paris global climate agreement, state news agency Xinhua reports.

China is the world’s largest emitter of harmful CO2 emissions, which cause climate change.

In December 2015, countries agreed to cut emissions enough to keep the global average rise in temperatures below 2C.

China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee adopted “the proposal to review and ratify the Paris Agreement” on September 3 at the end of a week-long session.

The Paris deal is the world’s first comprehensive climate agreement. The deal will only come into force legally after it is ratified by at least 55 countries, which between them produce 55% of global carbon emissions.Paris climate change conference 2015

When the United States – the world’s second-largest emitter – follows China’s lead, it will bump the tally up to 40%.

Before China’s announcement, the 23 nations that had ratified the agreement accounted for just over 1% of emissions.

Analysts warn that the target of keeping temperature rises below 2C is already in danger of being breached.

For 14 consecutive months meteorologists have recorded the hottest month on record.

Average temperatures worldwide are likely to increase more in the coming years as the effect of previous carbon emissions makes itself felt.

The G20 summit in Hangzhou, starting on September 4, is a meeting of leaders from 20 countries.

President Barack Obama has now arrived in China on what is expected to be his last trip to Asia as the US president.

Barack Obama is set to announce on September 3 that the US is formally joining the Paris Agreement.

It is thought that he and China’s President Xi Jinping will make a joint announcement at a bilateral meeting.

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Residents of Chinese city of Nanning, in the Guangxi autonomous region, are covering their cars with things like bamboo mats in order to prevent rats from entering their cars.

They came up with the unusual solution after rodents were found to be clambering inside the vehicles and gnawing through the wiring. Parked cars have been spotted around Nanning sporting the makeshift, wraparound shields – dubbed “car maxi skirts” in the Chinese media – some fashioned from fabric and chicken wire, others using bamboo.Nanning rat proof car

“There are many rats in this area,” a local man tells Nanning TV, adding that it’s a particular problem during cold spells when rats like to snuggle down in warm places, like car bonnets.

“Putting these around the cars is a good thing, and it can also prevent small children from scratching them,” he says.

Many social media users are amused by the curious sight.

Regional differences are also evident in many comments. Guangxi has a reputation for using both cats and dogs for meat, and is home to the infamous Yulin dog-eating festival, widely frowned upon elsewhere in China.

“Guangxi people have eaten all the dogs and cats, that’s why there’s a rodent disaster,” reads one comment.

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A Dutch man spent ten days in a Chinese airport to wait for his girlfriend.

At the end of his trip the 41-year-old man was hospitalized for exhaustion.

Alexander Pieter Cirk recently flew from the Netherlands to Chinese province of Hunan in the hope of meeting his online girlfriend, a Chinese woman known only as Zhang.

He ended up spending ten days waiting at Changsha airport, after Zhang failed to show up.Alexander Pieter Cirk China airport

Alexander Pieter Cirk told Chinese media that he met 26-year-old Zhang in an app two months ago and romance blossomed.

He decided to fly to visit her, but when he got to Hunan found no-one had come to meet him.

Alexander Pieter Cirk refused to leave the airport for the next 10 days, and was eventually taken to hospital suffering physical exhaustion, according to reports by Hunan TV.

Zhang contacted the TV channel a day after the report aired to give her side, saying that she had thought it had all been a joke.

She also said that by the time Alexander Pieter Cirk arrived at the airport, she was away having plastic surgery in another province and had turned off her phone.

On Chinese social media, the majority of users were keen to point out the apparent absurdity of the man’s actions.

The hashtag “Foreign man went to Changsha to meet his online girlfriend” has been trending on Weibo.

Alexander Pieter Cirk was scheduled to fly home earlier this week.

Zhang reportedly said she would be keen to meet him after her recovery, saying she was still interested in maintaining their relationship.

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Papers leaked from Mossack Fonseca have revealed close relatives of seven current or former Chinese leaders have links to offshore companies.

The Panama documents name family members of the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, and two other members of China’s elite Standing Committee, Zhang Gaoli and Liu Yunshan.

Relatives of the three men are listed as directors or shareholders in companies located in known tax havens.

The names appeared in a mass leak of files from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.Panama leaks China

Chinese state media are blocking reports of the families’ offshore dealings, and the news is being censored on Chinese social media outlets.

It is not illegal for Chinese citizens to set up offshore companies. However, China’s Communist officials are discouraged from profiting from their ruling positions and their family members are not supposed to profit from their ties, according to the party’s constitution.

More than 300,000 party officials were punished last year under an ongoing anti-corruption campaign, orchestrated by President Xi Jinping.

All three leaders have in-laws who are listed as directors or shareholders in companies located in known tax havens, including the British Virgin Islands.

It is widely known that many of China’s elite families have succeeded in the business world and their wealth is well documented.

However, the leaked files from Mossack Fonseca divulge how much of that wealth is managed overseas, in opaque corporate structures that until now remained hidden from public view.

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Maserati has decided to recall nearly 21,000 cars in China over a design defect that could increase the risk of a collision.

The affected vehicles include the Quattroporte and Ghibli models made between March 2013 and December 2015, state-owned media said.

China’s quality watchdog claims a design problem with the floor mat and accelerator could lead to the pedal getting stuck in the working position.

The Italian luxury car maker will replace the pedals.Maserati recall China 2016

Luxury car brands have seen sales suffer in China in recent years due to the slowing economy and a government crackdown on corruption and overt displays of wealth.

However, companies like Maserati are now looking to online retailing as a new source of growth. China is the world’s biggest e-commerce market with nearly 700 million internet users.

Maserati launched its flagship store on Alibaba’s online shopping site Tmall last week, listing 100 of its new SUV Levantes for advance sale. All the cars reportedly sold out in 18 seconds.

Levantes is due to officially launch in China in July.

Samsung’s mobile wallet service has been launched in China, in co-operation with local vendor UnionPay.

Instead of using cards, Samsung Pay allows shoppers to use their smartphones to pay for in-store purchases.

Last month, Apple launched its own Apple Pay system in China, also in partnership with UnionPay.

China’s smartphone market, the largest in the world, presents a huge business opportunity for mobile-payment systems.Samsung Pay launches in China

Apple Pay and Samsung Pay will now compete with Alibaba’s Alipay, which currently dominates China’s electronic payments market.

However, analysts say that mobile payment services provided by Alipay and WeChat were so dominant in China that international newcomers such as Apple and Samsung would face an uphill battle to win market share.

Tencent’s WeChat also has a payment system which is popular in China, and telecommunications giant Huawei launched its own service earlier this month.

Samsung Pay was now available in China on a range of smartphones including the Samsung Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy S6 edge+ and Galaxy Note5, the South Korean electronics giant said.

Samsung said it would have “the opportunity to support additional mid-range models in the future”.

In announcing its official launch, which has been expected since late last year, Samsung said that Samsung Pay currently supports select credit and debit cards of nine major banks in China including China CITIC Bank, China Construction Bank and China Everbright Bank.

The company has previously said it has one critical fact that will in its favor – its technology works with a much larger number of existing payment terminals.

There has been a rapid take-up of smartphones in China, with an estimated 68% of the population now owning one. And digital wallets are becoming a more popular way to pay for goods and services.

Samsung said on March 29 that its payment system was “simple, safe and easy to use” and that it worked “virtually anywhere you can swipe or tap your card in China”.

Unlike Google Wallet and several other earlier payment apps, Samsung says there is no need to unlock its phones to launch a special app to get started.

Like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay will use near field communication technology (NFC), which needs a separate transaction device, but it will also support magnetic secure transmission technology which works on regular credit card machines.

Samsung Pay is currently available in South Korea and the US.

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The United States and China say a new UN resolution against North Korea is needed, following Pyongyang’s claim that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb earlier this month.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in Beijing for talks, called North Korea’s nuclear ambitions a “threat to the world” and urged new sanctions.

However, his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi suggested China would not support any sanctions.

China is North Korea’s main ally, but has condemned Pyongyang’s nuclear test.

On January 6, a 5.1 magnitude tremor was detected in North Korea – which said it had successfully conducted an underground hydrogen bomb test.

However, nuclear experts questioned North Korea’s claim, saying the size of the blast was not large enough to have been from an H-bomb.

Speaking on January 27 after talks with Wang Yi, John Kerry said that both sides agreed on the need for a “strong” resolution against North Korea, and said that limiting the trade of goods and services across China’s border with North Korea was one potential measure.

However, Wang Yi said that while China supported the need for a new resolution, it “should not provoke new tension in the situation, still less destabilize the Korean peninsula”.John Kerry in China 2016

“Sanctions are not an end in themselves,” he added.

China is Pyongyang’s biggest trading partner, and major ally – although relations have cooled since Kim Jong-un succeeded his father.

Nonetheless, experts say China is wary of destabilizing North Korea, fearing that millions of North Korean refugees could pour across China’s borders if the regime collapsed.

The two sides also discussed the disputed South China Sea, where China has multiple competing territorial claims with other countries.

China has angered several neighbors by constructing artificial islands on claimed reefs, and building runways and other facilities on them.

John Kerry called on China to stop construction and land reclamation in disputed areas.

However, Beijing said such activity was within its legal rights to protect its territorial sovereignty.

John Kerry, who will also meet China’s State Councilor Yang Jiechi and President Xi Jinping, is on an Asia tour that has included Laos and Cambodia.

Swedish activist Peter Dahlin, who was detained in China on charges of damaging national security, has been released and deported.

The 35-year-old has been held since early January amid a crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists.

Last week Peter Dahlin appeared on state media apparently confessing to breaking the law through his organization’s support of local Chinese rights lawyers.

The Swedish embassy confirmed Peter Dahlin had left China but gave no further details.

Sweden’s foreign minister welcomed Peter Dahlin’s release, but expressed concern about another Swede in Chinese detention.Swedish activist Peter Dahlin China

More than 280 lawyers, legal assistants and associates were detained in a seemingly orchestrated government campaign last year – most have since been freed, but others now face trial while the whereabouts of others are still unknown.

Such moves contradict China’s implementation of reforms explicitly aimed at strengthening the rule of law, say correspondents.

Peter Dahlin is the founder of Chinese Urgent Action Working Group (China Action), which describes itself as a legal aid organization.

It provides assistance to uncertified “barefoot” lawyers who provide legal aid in rural areas, and provides direct help to disadvantaged groups and individuals who have experienced rights violations.

The group had said Peter Dahlin was detained on 4 January while en route to the airport for a flight to Thailand.

Last week, in a report on state television, Peter Dahlin appeared to confess to helping the Beijing law firm Fengrui – a number of the company’s lawyers have recently been charged with subversion.

Peter Dahlin said he had violated Chinese law, caused harm to the Chinese government and hurt the Chinese public.

China Action called the report “absurd” and said the confession appeared to be forced.

The group’s US-based co-founder Michael Caster tweeted that Peter Dahlin’s Chinese girlfriend, Pan Jinling, was also no longer in detention “but, contrary to some assertions, has not left the country”.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said she remained “greatly concerned” about the status of detained Swedish national Gui Minhai.

Gui Minhai is one of five people linked to a Hong Kong publishing house to disappear in recent months. He vanished while on holiday from Hong Kong in Thailand in October 2015.

He also appeared on Chinese TV earlier this month, saying he had voluntarily handed himself over to the authorities over a drink-driving fatality years ago.

The case has sparked protests in Hong Kong from those who believe they were kidnapped by China and are being held because of allegations in a book they were working on, critical of the mainland.

Margot Wallstrom said Sweden’s “efforts to get a clear picture of his situation and the possibility to visit him continue with undiminished force”.

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A gold-painted statue of Chairman Mao Zedong in China’s countryside has been removed, just days after it was erected, state media report.

A village official told the People’s Daily that the 120ft-construction had not been approved.

The giant statue of the late communist leader, on farmland in Henan’s Tongxu county, was said to have cost nearly 3 million yuan ($460,000).

It generated headlines around the world when it was completed a few days ago.Mao Zedong golden statue Henan

An official at Zhushigang village, where the statue was located, said it had not been registered and approved, and had now been removed, People’s Daily reported.

Land resource officials at Tongxu county also confirmed the removal of the statue to People’s Daily, but said they were not clear why it was removed.

A photo circulated on social media, which could not be independently verified, appearing to show the Mao statue being dismantled, with the legs removed and a black cloth covering the head.

The statue was reportedly paid for by local businessmen and villagers, and was built as a homage to Chairman Mao.

However, it also generated criticism online, with some arguing that it wasted resources and was located at an inappropriate location.

Henan province was the centre of a famine in the 1950s resulting from Mao Zedong’s policies.

Millions of people died in the famine, triggered by a campaign known as the Great Leap Forward.

Despite being responsible for so many deaths, Mao Zedong is revered by many in China, not least by President Xi Jinping, who praises him as a “great figure”.

Xi Jinping has also attempted to centralize power in China’s presidency, and has used Mao Zedong’s legacy to build support, while admitting the former leader made “mistakes”.

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China is accused by Vietnam of violating its sovereignty by landing a plane on an artificial island built in a contested part of the South China Sea.

According to the Vietnamese foreign ministry, the airfield was built illegally on a part of the Spratly archipelago that lies within its territory.

China said it has complete sovereignty over Fiery Cross Reef and had used a civilian plane to test the airstrip.

Several nations dispute China’s territorial claims in the area.

China claims almost the whole of the South China Sea, resulting in overlapping claims with several other Asian nations including Vietnam and the Philippines.

They accuse China of illegally reclaiming land in contested areas to create artificial islands with facilities that could potentially be for military use.China Spratlys plane landing

The US has said it was concerned that January 3 flight had exacerbated tensions.

Pooja Jhunjhunwala, a spokeswoman for the US State Department, said there was “a pressing need for claimants to publicly commit to a reciprocal halt to further land reclamation, construction of new facilities, and militarization of disputed features”.

“We encourage all claimants to actively reduce tensions from unilateral actions that undermine regional stability, and taking steps to create space for meaningful diplomatic solutions to emerge,” Pooja Jhunjhunwala said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China conducted the flight to test whether the airfield facilities met the standards for civil aviation.

“China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters. China will not accept the unfounded accusation from the Vietnamese side,” Hua Chunying said, referring to the Spratly Islands by their Chinese name.

Hanoi’s foreign ministry said Vietnam handed a protest note to China’s embassy and asked China not to repeat the action, Reuters reported.

It called the flight “a serious infringement of the sovereignty of Vietnam on the Spratly archipelago”.

Satellite images published in April 2015 showed China making progress with building the airstrip on reclaimed land on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands.

The landmass could accommodate a runway about 3,000m long.

It also showed dredging to the south of the reef, in apparent work to improve the reef’s port facilities.

China says its work is legal and needed to safeguard its sovereignty.

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China has expelled French journalist Ursula Gauthier over an article she wrote that was critical of Beijing’s policy towards Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

Beijing confirmed it would not renew press credentials for Ursula Gauthier, of the French news magazine L’Obs.

It said an article Ursula Gauthier wrote about the unrest in Xinjiang supported “terrorism and cruel acts” that had killed people.

Ursula Gauthier called the claims “absurd” and said Beijing was trying to deter foreign reporters in the country.

If her press card is not renewed, Ursula Gauthier cannot apply for a new visa, and will have to leave China by December 31.

Ursula Gauthier would be the first foreign journalist to be expelled since al-Jazeera correspondent Melissa Chan in 2012.

Photo AP

Photo AP

China blames the long-running unrest in western autonomous Xinjiang region on Islamist separatists, many of whom it says have foreign ties.

However, Xinjiang’s ethnic Uighurs, most of whom are Muslim, say Beijing’s repression of their religious and cultural customs is provoking the violence.

Ursula Gauthier published her article after the attacks in Paris in November, suggesting China’s solidarity with France might have an ulterior motive – to justify its own crackdowns in Xinjiang.

The article triggered condemnation from the Chinese government and state media, which demanded an apology and retraction from her.

China’s foreign ministry confirmed on December 26 it would not renew Ursula Gauthier’s press card, saying she had failed to make a “serious apology” to the Chinese people and was no longer “suitable” to continue working in the country.

“China will never support the freedom to champion terrorism,” the ministry said.

The foreign ministry complained of what bit termed a double standard, whereby tough action in the West was called anti-terrorism but in China was described as the repression of ethnic minorities.

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China’s foreign ministry has summoned the US charge d’affaires Kaye Lee in protest after Washington announced it would sell two warships to Taiwan.

Vice-Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang made “solemn representations” with Kaye Lee, the US charge d’affaires, the ministry said.

The arms deal, worth $1.83 billion, comes as tensions rise over China’s island-building in the South China Sea.

Taiwan expressed gratitude to Washington for helping with its defense needs.

China views Taiwan as a breakaway province which will one day be reunited with the mainland, though relations have warmed in recent weeks.

Leaders from both countries met last month for the first time since the 1949 civil war.US and Taiwan warship deal 2015

China maintains a right to use force if Taiwan attempts to gain independence.

The Chinese statement said Zheng Zenguang had told Kaye Lee at the December 16 meeting that Taiwan “is an inalienable part of China’s territory” and that it “strongly opposes the US arms sale”.

It added that the deal had “severely damaged China’s sovereignty and security interest”, and pledged to sanction the US companies involved in it.

The US said the deal, the first in four years, was consistent with its “long-standing policy on arms sales to Taiwan”.

Relations between the US and China are frayed over China’s construction of artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea.

Two decommissioned US Navy frigates, anti-tank missiles, amphibious assault vehicles, as well as surface-to-air missiles and other equipment are all included in the deal.

It will be approved in 30 days, unless Congress objects. That is thought unlikely, as there has been growing concern in the US about Taiwan’s ability to defend itself from China’s military might.

State department spokesman John Kirby said the sale was consistent with the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which requires the US to provide Taiwan with sufficient weaponry to defend itself, even though the US does not recognize Taiwan as a state independent of China.

The move did not need to have a negative effect on US-Chinese relations, John Kirby said, adding: “We still want to work to establish a better, more transparent, more effective relationship with China in the region.”

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A Beijing court has commuted the suspended death sentence of Bo Xilai’s wife, Gu Kailai, to life in prison.

The court said Gu Kailai showed repentance and “did not commit any crimes” in jail.

Gu Kailai was sentenced in 2012 for murdering British businessman Neil Heywood.

Disgraced former Politburo member Bo Xilai was jailed for life in 2013 for corruption and abuse of power. The cases were China’s biggest political scandal in years.

“The aforementioned criminal has recently certainly shown repentance,” the court said, adding that Gu Kailai had practiced “thought, culture and technical study.”

The statement was dated December 11 but released only on December 14.Gu Kailai death sentence commuted

The document also said that Gu Kailai had “obeyed discipline”, and “completed labor tasks in a timely manner”. As a result she was “eligible for the legal conditions for a commutation”.

Correspondents say with good behavior suspended death sentences are usually commuted to life in prison in China.

Gu Kailai’s case was one among several public notices soliciting public objections to reduced sentences.

The other two were former electronics tycoon Huang Guangyu, who was convicted of bribery; and Liu Zhijun, former railways minister who was previously given a suspended death sentence for taking bribes and was partly blamed for a fatal bullet train crash in 2011.

Public consultation for Huang Guangyu closes on December 15.

The notices for both Gu Kailai and Liu Zhijun were published on the Supreme People’s Court website last month, but were only reported by local media on December 14, several weeks after the end of the consultation period.

The cases were reported shortly after the trial opened of one of China’s leading human rights lawyers, Pu Zhiqiang, in Beijing. That trial attracted considerable international attention, particularly after plainclothes security officials aggressively manhandled journalists, diplomats and protesters gathered outside the court.

Gu Kailai’s case sparked the series of events which brought down her high-flying husband.

Bo Xilai was removed as Communist Party boss of the important metropolis of Chongqing in south-western China, and from the Politburo, which makes key party decisions, in 2012.

During his trial, Bo Xilai claimed that Gu Kailai – who testified against him – had gone insane.

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North Korean pop group Moranbong has halted its goodwill tour of China – before it even began.

The all-female band unexpectedly turned up at Beijing’s main airport just hours before their first concert and flew back to Pyongyang.

Moranbong were due to play three shows to help improve ties between China and North Korea.

It is not yet clear why the performances were canceled.

Moranbong is one of North Korea’s most popular bands. Its members were reportedly handpicked by the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, himself.

The band plays a mixture of Western and traditional Korean tunes, and has been happy to perform the theme from the movie Rocky alongside patriot songs praising North Korea’s communist rulers.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

Moranbong members play a range of instruments, including electronic violins.

In North Korea, the Moranbong musicians are also known for wearing revealing outfits and sporting fashionable hairstyles.

The women were waved off for their first-ever foreign tour from Pyongyang railway station on December 9 by senior leaders.

Dressed in military uniforms, they smiled and waved to fans when they came and went from their hotel after arriving in China.

There was no hint of trouble when they practiced in Beijing’s National Center for Performing Arts on December 11.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman confirmed the performances were aimed at improving ties between China and North Korea. She also joked that she did not know where to get hold of a ticket for the concerts.

However, on December 12, the band unexpectedly arrived at Beijing airport and boarded a plane back home – a scheduled flight whose departure was delayed for several hours.

Moranbong’s stage set was dismantled and its concerts were canceled. Neither China nor North Korea has given an official reason for the abrupt end of the tour.

China and North Korea are allies. China’s Chairman Mao once said they were as close as lips and teeth.

However, they have not always seen eye-to-eye over recent years. China has been particularly angry at three nuclear tests carried out by North Korea, the last in 2013.

Miss World Canada, Chinese-born Anastasia Lin, has said she was barred from boarding a plane from Hong Kong to the Chinese city hosting this year’s pageant.

Anastasia Lin, 25, says she did not receive an invitation to attend the event, which meant she could not apply for a visa.

However, she attempted to travel to Sanya, via Hong Kong, as Canadian tourists are eligible for visas on arrival.

Anastasia Lin has blamed the apparent ban on her human rights campaigning.

She has criticized the “repressions and censorship” in China and is a practitioner of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement which China deems a cult and has banned.

The Miss World tournament is due to happen in the seaside resort of Sanya on December 19.

Photo YouTube

Photo YouTube

Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail quoted a statement from the Chinese embassy in Ottawa that “China does not allow any persona non grata to come to China”, in response to a query on Anastasia Lin’s status.

“My denial was unfortunate, but not entirely unexpected. The Chinese government has barred me from the competition for political reasons,” Anastasia Lin said in a statement.

“They are trying to punish me for my beliefs and prevent me from speaking out about human rights issues.”

Anastasia Lin said she was barred from flying after trying to check in at the Dragonair counter at Hong Kong airport.

Canadians usually need a visa to enter China, but Anastasia Lin was trying to enter Sanya on a special landing visa that Sanya, as a tourist destination, grants on arrival to citizens of certain countries, including Canada.

Anastasia Lin moved from China to Canada in 2003 as a teenager. She has performed in films about the abuse of Falun Gong members, and spoken about the subject to a US Congressional committee in July.

She has also claims her father, who still resides in China, has been harassed by officials because of her activism.

Falun Gong, considered a cult by Chinese authorities, first began as a spiritual movement that quickly amassed thousands of followers.

After a demonstration by Falun Gong practitioners demanding recognition in 1999, Chinese authorities outlawed it and launched a crackdown.

The movement’s followers have accused authorities of persecution and often hold protests outside of China to draw attention to their treatment.

C919, the first Chinese passenger aircraft, has been unveiled in Shanghai at a ceremony attended by 4,000 guests.

The C919 is a large passenger aircraft having 168 seats and range of 3,444 miles.

The plane’s first test flight is not until 2016, but the unveiling was seen as having huge industrial significance.

“A great nation must have its own large commercial aircraft,” China’s civil aviation chief Li Jiaxiang said.

“China’s air transport industry cannot completely rely on imports,” he told the ceremony at a hangar near Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport.China C919 passenger jet

The C919’s manufacturer, Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac) says it has orders for 517 aircraft from 21 customers, most of them Chinese airlines, but also from leasing company GE Capital Aviation Services.

The development of the new aircraft has been hit by delays since the project was conceived in 2008. Assuming the test flights are successful, the C919 is due to enter commercial service in about 2019.

China has had ambitions to build its own civil aircraft industry since the 1970s, when leader Mao Zedong’s wife, Jiang Qing, personally backed a project. But the Y-10’s heavy weight made it impractical and only three were ever made.

Boeing’s latest World Market Outlook puts China’s total demand for civilian aircraft over the next two decades at 5,580 planes worth a total of $780 billion.

The C919 will compete in the market for single-aisle jets dominated by Airbus A320 and Boeing’s 737. But the Chinese aircraft is just the start of a strategy to eat into the Airbus-Boeing duopoly.

Comac also plans a wide-body plane, the C929, in cooperation with Russia’s United Aircraft Corp, and the company is also expected to create an aero-engine operation.

A separate state-owned company has developed a smaller regional jet, the ARJ-21, to compete in the market dominated by Brazil’s Embraer and Canada’s Bombardier. The first two ARJ-21s were delivered last year to a Chinese airline.

Foreign companies are key suppliers to the C919, including Honeywell and Rockwell Collins in the US. The aircraft’s engines are made by CFM International, a joint venture between America’s General Electric and France’s Safran.

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China, Japan and South Korea have announced they have “completely restored” trade and security ties, at the first meeting of the countries’ leaders in three years.

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, Chinese PM Li Keqiang and South Korean President Park-Geun-hye said in a statement they had agreed to resume regular trilateral meetings, not held since 2012.

They also agreed more economic co-operation.

The talks in the South Korean capital Seoul were an attempt to ease ill-feeling fuelled by territorial disputes and historical disagreements.

China and South Korea say Japan has not done enough to atone for its troops’ brutality in World War Two.

They talks were held regularly until three-and-a-half years ago, when they were called off as bad feeling towards Japan intensified.Asia trilateral summit November 2015

“We shared the view that trilateral cooperation has been completely restored on the occasion of this summit,” South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a joint statement, quoted by AFP.

Park Geun-hye said the three leaders had agreed to work together to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a 16-nation free trade area favored by Beijing.

She said they maintained their goal of “denuclearizing” North Korea, AFP reported.

South Korea and Japan are torn between their allegiance to the US and their need to get on economically with Beijing.

Li Keqiang met Park Geun-hye on October 31 and the two agreed to try to increase trade, particularly through more Korean exports of food to China and co-operation on research into robotics.

The two leaders were joined by Shinzo Abe on November 1.