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.
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.
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.
“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.
Addressing a UN summit on development goals, Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to establish a $2 billion fund to assist developing countries and to significantly increase investment.
Xi Jinping said investment would reach $12 billion over the next 15 years.
He also said China would cancel debts to the world’s least developed nations, including small island nations.
Beijing, the Chinese leader added, would assist in 600 overseas projects in the next five years and offer more scholarships.
“Looking around the world, the peace and development remain the two major themes of the times,” Xi Jinping said.
“To solve various global challenges, including the recent refugee crisis in Europe, the fundamental solutions lie in seeking peace and realizing development.
“Facing with various challenges and difficulties, we must keep hold of the key of the development. Only the development can eliminate the causes of the conflicts.”
Xi Jinping’s pledges of aid give a big boost to the launch of the UN’s new Global Goals for Sustainable Development – the day after all members states committed themselves to a hugely ambitious program.
The plan aims to eradicate poverty and hunger by 2030.
It was China’s extraordinary record shifting so many families out the ranks of the poor which ensured that the overall global record in poverty reduction under the previous Millennium Development Goals was substantial.
Now China is offering to help other countries – particularly in Africa.
This new initiative also suggests China is willing to take on more of the responsibilities that go with its status as emerging superpower.
Chinese Wang Fengying, who posed as a Qing dynasty princess in order to run a fraud scheme, has been sentenced to 13 and half years in jail.
Wang Fengying had called herself “Princess Changping” and claimed to be a descendent of the Aisin Gioro Manchu royal family.
The woman and her accomplice conned their victims out of more than 2 million yuan ($313,600) within one year.
They were caught in 2014 after one of her victims complained to the police.
Wang Fengying was also fined 500,000 yuan, said the Lianhu District Court in the central Shaanxi province on September 7.
The accomplice, Yang Jianglin, received a 12-year jail sentence and a 500,000 yuan fine.
The Aisin Gioro family ruled China from 1644 until the 1912 revolution that toppled the monarchy and installed a republican government.
Wang Fengying and Yang Jianglin set up a fake company that bought large quantities of counterfeit US dollars and gold bars, which they told victims was just a small portion of Wang’s assets.
This rest was locked away, they said, and could not be released through usual methods. She said she needed money for “ensuring good relations” to unlock them as well as for delivery fees, according to a 2014 report on her arrest by CNWest news portal.
Investors were told that if they managed to help unlock these assets, the government would give them a reward three times the value.
Among the items found during a police raid at Wang Jianglin’s office were 41 gold bars – it was not clear whether they were fake or real – ancient-looking keys, and a treasure map.
Unusually, the court ruling ended with a personal note from the unnamed judge, who said there was “no such thing as a free lunch”.
“I hope that members of the public, when encountering someone who says they have a far-fetched and mysterious personal history and who tells you that you can get a high return on your investment, keep an alert mind and not easily be swayed by the lure of money.
“Think before you act. Perhaps in this way, you can steer clear of the traps laid by fraudulent cheats.”
Japan is marking 70 years since the end of World War Two with commemoration ceremonies across the country.
The Asian country has been criticized by South Korea and China, which accused it of failing to properly atone for its actions during the war.
At Tokyo’s memorial service, Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe and Emperor Akihito observed a minute’s silence.
Shinzo Abe had expressed “profound grief” on August 14 over Japan’s role in the war.
South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye said the Japanese premier’s remarks “left much to be desired”.
Speaking on August 15 at a ceremony in Seoul, Park Geun-hye called on Shinzo Abe to reiterate Japan’s apologies for abuses during its wartime occupations of neighboring countries.
“History can never be covered up. History remains alive through its witnesses’ vivid testimony,” she said.
Japan’s surrender to the allies on August 15, 1945, freed the then-unified Korea from 35 years of occupation, leading Koreans to celebrate the date as Liberation Day.
President Park Geun-hye also called on Japan to resolve, “at the earliest possible date”, the issue of so-called “comfort women” – Asian women forced to work as s** slaves for the military during the war.
Shinzo Abe stopped short of issuing a fresh apology this year to victims of Japanese aggression, saying that future Japanese generations should not be “predestined to apologize” for their country’s wartime actions.
A spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry said on August 15 that Japan should have made a “sincere apology to the people of victim countries … rather than being evasive on this major issue of principle”.
Speaking at the ceremony in Tokyo, PM Shinzo Abe said Japan’s war dead “sacrificed their life for the future and the prosperity of our homeland”.
“Their sacrifice was the foundation of today’s prosperity and we shall never forget their contribution. We always reflect the past and we hate the horror of the war,” he said.
Emperor Akihito also spoke at the ceremony in Tokyo, striking a more apologetic tone than Shinzo Abe with an expression of “deep remorse” for the nation’s wartime aggression.
Shinzo Abe did not visit Japan’s controversial Yasukuni war shrine this year, as he has in previous years, although there will be commemorations at the site.
Koichi Hagiuda, a member of parliament and aide to Shinzo Abe, visited the shrine with a cash offering on behalf of the prime minister.
“I paid respects to the souls of those who sacrificed their precious lives in the past war,” Koichi Hagiuda said.
The shrine has been criticized by China and South Korea because along with Japan’s war dead it honors leaders who were later convicted of war crimes.
As well as commemorations that seek to consign wartime atrocities to the past, there will be events that highlight ongoing tensions in the region.
Thousands of South Korean protesters are expected to hold an anti-Japanese rally on August 15. This past week a Korean protester set fire to himself outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul.
Meanwhile, in North Korea, clocks were set back 30 minutes on August 15 to so-called Pyongyang Time to remove the country from a shared time zone established under Japanese colonial rule.
Typhoon Soudelor has hit south-eastern China prompting the evacuation of thousands of people and leaving millions of homes without power.
The powerful typhoon struck Fujian province late on Saturday night, bringing rains and gale force winds, state media said.
It earlier swept across Taiwan, leaving at least five people dead.
Although it has weakened, typhoon Soudelor is expected to continue moving across the region in the coming hours.
Fujian raised its typhoon alert to the highest level in anticipation of the storm, with at least 163,000 people evacuated to higher ground. There are reports of more evacuations in neighboring Zhejiang.
Rail services and flights have been cancelled in the path of the storm, and schools and offices closed.
Taiwan earlier on Saturday saw winds of more than 142mph, when Soudelor made landfall.
It ripped up trees and tore down billboards, and triggered a landslide in at least one village.
Among the victims were an 8-year-old girl and her mother who were swept out to sea.
A firefighter was reportedly killed after being hit by a drunk driver as he tried to move a fallen tree.
Typhoon Soudelor gradually lost its strength as it crossed the island, but was still packing winds of up to 89mph over the strait between Taiwan and China.
China’s former Ministry of Public Security Zhou Yongkang has been jailed for life after being found guilty of bribery, abuse of power and “intentionally disclosing national secrets”, Xinhua news agency reports.
Zhou Yongkang – the most senior politician to face corruption charges under Communist rule.
Until his retirement in 2012, Zhou Yongkang was one of China’s most powerful men.
Zhou Yongkang was put under investigation one year later as part of President Xi Jinping’s major anti-corruption campaign.
State TV showed a clip of Zhou Yongkang, 72, pleading guilty at a closed-door trial in the northern city of Tianjin. When responding to the judge, he said he would not launch an appeal.
Zhou Yongkang said: “I’ve realized the harm I’ve caused to the party and the people. I plead guilty and I regret my crimes.”
He was tried behind closed doors on May 22 because the case involved state secrets, Xinhua agency reports. There was no public announcement until the conviction was reported on June 11.
In a breakdown of the ruling, Xinhua reports that Zhou Yongkang received a life sentence for accepting bribes worth 130 million yuan ($21.3 million), seven years for abuse of power and four years for “deliberately releasing state secrets”.
All political rights have been stripped and his property confiscated, the news agency added.
Zhou Yongkang was charged in April, nine months after a formal investigation was announced.
He has since been expelled from the Communist Party.
Zhou Yongkang was once head of the Ministry of Public Security, as well as a member of China’s top decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee.
It is the first time such a senior Chinese figure has been convicted of corruption since the Communist Party came to power in 1949.
President Xi Jinping vowed to end endemic corruption when he came to power in 2012.
Since then, a number of Zhou Yongkang’s former associates from his time working in the oil industry and as Communist Party chief in Sichuan province have been investigated or prosecuted as part of Xi Jinping’s corruption crackdown.
The Xinhua report did not refer to Bo Xilai, a former protégé of Zhou Yongkang’s and former Chongqing Communist Party chief, who is currently in prison on charges linked to his wife’s murder of a British businessman.
Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to begin her first visit to China on June 10, at a time of tension between the two countries.
Aung San Suu Kyi will meet President Xi Jinping and PM Li Keqiang, but no other details have been provided.
Relations between Myanmar (also known as Burma) and China have cooled in recent years, partly because of violence near their mutual border.
Myanmar has been fighting rebels in its eastern Kokang region, which borders China’s Yunnan province.
China is concerned about violence spilling over the border. At least five people in Yunnan died in March when an aircraft from Myanmar dropped a bomb on a sugar cane field.
China sent patrols to the border in response.
The Chinese government department handling Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit would not be making any details of the trip public nor inviting media, other than state media, to any events.
This visit is meant to improve ties between Myanmar’s opposition leader and China but she will be closely watched for various issues.
Many are already calling on Aung San Suu Kyi to recognize her similarities to fellow Nobel Peace prize winner Liu Xiaobo during her visit.
Chinese dissident and writer Liu Xiaobo is serving an 11-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power”.
While Myanmar’s military junta was under Western sanctions and Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest, China remained a loyal ally.
Since reforms were introduced in 2011, the government of President Thein Sein has allied itself closely with the US, although China continues to help develop major infrastructure projects in Myanmar.
Given the possibility that Aung San Suu Kyi’s party will do well in upcoming elections, Beijing is determined to put pragmatism first and build a relationship with a woman whose politics it deplores, she adds.
As head of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to play a key role in the presidential elections this November.
Aung San Suu Kyi is unlikely to run for president, however, as a clause in the constitution blocks her from standing because her husband and children are foreign citizens.
At least 5 people have died and hundreds are missing in China after a cruise ship carrying 458 people capsized on the Yangtze River.
According to officials, 14 people have been rescued, with some found alive inside the upside-down hull of the vessel. Three of them were rescued from inside the upside-down hull of the ship after it was cut open, Xinhua reports.
The boat, the Eastern Star, reportedly sent no emergency signal. The alarm was raised by those who had swum to shore.
The captain and the chief engineer, who both survived, have been detained. They say the boat was caught in a cyclone.
Chinese media quoted them as saying the vessel sank within minutes, while many people were asleep.
Most of those on board were tourists aged around 50 to 80 travelling from the eastern city of Nanjing to Chongqing in the south-west – a journey of at least 930 miles.
The ship sank in the Damazhou waterway section of the Yangtze, where the world’s third longest river reaches depths of about 50ft.
Strong winds and heavy rain have been hampering the rescue efforts. According to the People’s Daily, three bodies were recovered in Yueyang, Hunan province, some 30 miles away from the site of the sinking.
Thousands of soldiers and rescue personnel have been deployed, and a high-powered salvage ship is on the way to pull the boat upright, reported China Central Television (CCTV).
Footage aired on state TV showed divers knocking on the submerged hull with hammers to try to make contact with people believed to be trapped below.
Chinese PM Li Keqiang has arrived at the scene, according to the People’s Daily.
Eastern Star – Dongfangzhixing in Chinese – had been carrying 406 Chinese passengers, five travel agency employees and 47 crew members.
The 76m-long ship weighs 2,200 tons, and could accommodate a maximum of 534 people.
The boat sank at about 21:30 local time on June 1, but rescuers did not reach the vessel until at least two and a half hours later.
CCTV said the vessel was owned by the Chongqing Eastern Shipping Corporation which runs tours to the scenic Three Gorges river canyon area along the Yangtze River.
China’s President Xi Jinping and the leader of Taiwan’s ruling party, Eric Chu, have held the highest level talks between the two sides in six years.
Nationalist Chairman, Eric Chu, was in Beijing for the meeting, a sign of warming relations between the sides.
Any rapprochement is controversial in Taiwan, which has seen protests over the prospect of closer ties.
Chinese nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949 after a brutal civil war with the communists.
In the same time, China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that will ultimately return.
Many Taiwanese oppose reunification and fear that growing economic dependency on Beijing could be the first step towards that outcome, correspondents say.
President Xi Jinping said during the meeting that China and Taiwan should settle political differences through consultation, but with Taiwan’s acceptance that it is part of China, according to Xinhua state news agency. He also said Beijing will make greater efforts to open up to Taiwan and help it to develop economically.
“The two sides can consult with each other on equal basis under the principle of <<one China>>, and reach a reasonable arrangement,” Xi Jinping said.
Taiwan’s Kuomintang (KMT) has seen its popularity decline and protests at home, dubbed the “Sunflower Movement”, over its warming ties with the Chinese Communist Party.
In March last year, hundreds of students occupied parliament for weeks to demonstrate against a trade pact that the KMT signed with China. Thousands rallied on the streets against the mainland.
Eric Chu’s party is nevertheless currently pushing to join China’s new development bank. Taiwan’s initial application to the bank was rejected by Beijing because of the name under which it applied, which implied it was an independent nation.
However, Beijing said it would welcome an application by Taiwan under an “appropriate” name.
The KMT had its worst-ever performance in local elections in November and the President Ma Ying-jeou stepped down as party chief, to be replaced by Eric Chu.
Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz has been fined 350 million yuan ($56.5 million) in China for price-fixing as part of a broader clampdown on anti-monopolistic practices.
A pricing regulator in Jiangsu said Mercedes-Benz pressured local dealers into setting a minimum sales price on some of its car models.
Some of the luxury German carmaker’s local dealers were also fined 7.7 million yuan, regulators said.
A Mercedes-Benz spokesperson said the company “accepts the decision and takes its responsibilities under competition law very seriously”.
“We have taken all appropriate steps to ensure to fully comply with the law,” the spokesperson told the Reuters news agency.
In a statement, the Chinese regulator said: “The investigation found Mercedes-Benz and its dealers in Jiangsu came to and carried out monopoly agreements to cap the lowest sales prices of E-Class, S-Class models and certain spare parts.”
In 2014, the Xinhua news agency reported that Mercedes had also been found guilty of manipulating the prices of after-sales services in China.
China is the world’s largest car market and foreign automakers have been under scrutiny for allegedly reaping high profits by overcharging customers.
In 2014, Chinese regulators fined the local units of Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler a combined $46 million for price-fixing.
They also levied a record fine totaling 1.24 billion yuan on 12 Japanese car parts companies including Sumitomo Electric and Mitsubishi Electric for price-fixing.
Chinese authorities also conducted investigations into foreign business practices in the pharmaceutical, technology and food sectors.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to announce an investment of $46 billion in Pakistan.
The focus of the spending is on building a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a network of roads, railway and pipelines between the two.
They will run some 1,865 miles from Gwadar in Pakistan to China’s western Xinjiang region.
The projects will give China direct access to the Indian Ocean and beyond.
This marks a major advance in China’s plans to boost its economic influence in Central and South Asia, correspondents say, and far exceeds US spending in Pakistan.
“Pakistan, for China, is now of pivotal importance. This has to succeed and be seen to succeed,” Reuters quoted Mushahid Hussain Sayed, chairman of the Pakistani parliament’s defense committee, as saying.
Pakistan, for its part, hopes the investment will boost its struggling economy and help end chronic power shortages.
Leaders are also expected to discuss co-operation on security.
President Xi Jinping will spend two days in Pakistan holding talks with President Mamnoon Hussain, PM Nawaz Sharif and other ministers. He will address parliament on April 21.
Deals worth some $28 billion are ready to be signed during the visit, with the rest to follow.
Under the CPEC plan, China’s government and banks will lend to Chinese companies, so they can invest in projects as commercial ventures.
A network of roads, railways and energy developments will eventually stretch some 1,865 miles.
Some $15.5 billion worth of coal, wind, solar and hydro energy projects will come online by 2017 and add 10,400 megawatts of energy to Pakistan’s national grid, according to officials.
A $44 million optical fiber cable between the two countries is also due to be built.
Pakistan, meanwhile, hopes the investment will enable it to transform itself into a regional economic hub.
Ahsan Iqbal, the Pakistani minister overseeing the plan, told the AFP news agency that these were “very substantial and tangible projects which will have a significant transformative effect on Pakistan’s economy”.
Xi Jinping is also expected to discuss security issues with PM Nawaz Sharif, including China’s concerns that Muslim separatists from Xinjiang are linking up with Pakistani militants.
China has decided to stop issuing multiple entry Hong Kong visas to residents of Shenzhen, state media reports.
The move is an attempt by Beijing to ease growing anger in Hong Kong over shopping trips by mainlanders who are take advantage of lower taxes.
Shenzhen residents will now only be able to enter Hong Kong once per week, and stay for no longer than a week.
Hong Kong officials say 47 million visits were made in 2014 by mainland Chinese people.
About a tenth of those visits were by people who entered Hong Kong more than once a week, a large proportion of them Shenzhen residents holding multiple entry visas.
Many of the visitors buy up household goods in bulk to resell across the border – as Hong Kong does not charge sales tax – despite this being illegal.
There have been angry protests in recent months over this so-called parallel trading, occasionally resulting in scuffles in shopping malls close to the border.
China’s Xinhua news agency, citing the ministry of security, said on April 13 that the new rules applied immediately.
It said the decision had been made because of concerns that Hong Kong was struggling to cope with the huge numbers of tourists.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive CY Leung welcomed the move, saying he had raised the issue with Beijing in June.
Mainlanders have to get permission from their government to enter Hong Kong.
CY Leung warned that existing visas would remain valid, meaning it could take some time for the effect of the change to be seen.
He also cautioned that the “unruly protests” seen in towns close to the border had actually hampered the discussions and “hurt the feelings between the people of Hong Kong and the mainland”, the South China Morning Post reports.
Parallel trading has been a key factor in the growing anti-mainland sentiment in Hong Kong.
There is huge demand in China for household items from Hong Kong, in particular milk powder, as they are seen as being both cheaper and better quality.
Hong Kongers say this trade pushes up costs and causes huge delays at border crossings, while also complaining about poor behavior from mainlanders.
The authorities on both sides of the border routinely arrest people caught smuggling and crack down on commercial operators, but locals have long demanded more decisive action.
Chinese TV anchor Bi Fujian has been taken off air after a video emerged of him criticizing Mao Zedong, the founder of modern China.
Bi Fujian was filmed singing a parody song in which he said Chinese people had suffered under Mao Zedong’s leadership.
CCTV said Bi Fujian’s comments had had a “serious social impact”, but many in China have defended him.
Mao Zedong, who led China through the Cultural Revolution and devastating famine, is the subject of much historical debate.
Bi Fujian hosts CCTV’s annual New Year variety show, the most-watched television program in the world.
In the video, filmed at a private banquet, Bi Fujian is seen singing a song from a Mao-era opera, Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy.
He changes the lyrics to say “we’ve suffered enough” and calling Chairman Mao “that old son of a bitch”, prompting fellow guests to laugh.
Bi Fujian has been taken off air for four days, state media report.
CCTV said in a statement it would “seriously handle the matter in line with related regulations and based on careful investigation”.
The China Digital Times, which monitors Chinese media from abroad, reported that all websites had been ordered to take down the video and “stop hyping the story”.
Mao Zedong ruled China between 1945 and 1976, building a personality cult around himself and generating mass social upheaval to recreate the country.
He initiated the Great Leap Forward – an industrial revolution which resulted in massive famine killing tens of millions of people – and the Cultural Revolution, a crackdown on perceived bourgeois elements which led to mass imprisonments and executions, as well as the widespread destruction of China’s cultural history.
While China officially acknowledges there were faults in Mao Zedong era and the personality cult which surrounded him – generally he is seen as 70% good and 30% bad – he remains hugely respected, and insulting him and other leaders is a taboo.
Mao Zedong’s legacy is also growing in popularity among those who feel China has moved too far away from his communist ideals.
Commentators online and in the media were divided over whether Bi Fujian should be disciplined. Some argued that he was being punished because he is a public figure and that it was a sign of the lack of free speech in China.
Zhou Yongkang, who oversaw China’s security apparatus and law enforcement institutions, has been charged with bribery, abuse of power and the intentional disclosure of state secrets, state media report.
The former security chief was, until his retirement in 2012, one of China’s most powerful men.
Zhou Yongkang headed the Ministry of Public Security and was a member of China’s top decision-making body.
Once Xi Jinping took over as president in 2013, however, Zhou Yongkang was put under investigation.
A formal probe was announced in July 2014, after months of rumors, and he has since been expelled from the Communist Party.
Zhou Yongkang’s case had been sent to a court in Tianjin, a northern port city, Xinhua news agency reported.
The head of China’s top court said last month he would have an “open trial”, though no date has been announced.
In a brief statement, China’s top prosecution body said that the allegations against Zhou Yongkang were “extraordinarily severe”.
“The defendant Zhou Yongkang… took advantage of his posts to seek gains for others and illegally took huge property and assets from others, abused his power, causing huge losses to public property and the interests of the state and the people,” the statement said.
Zhou Yongkang, who is in his 70s, is the most senior official to be targeted in decades.
He was previously one of nine members of China’s highest organ, the Politburo Standing Committee. It has since shrunk to seven members.
Zhou Yongkang has not been seen in public since late 2013, when rumors of a probe first emerged.
A number of his former associates from his time both in the oil industry and as Communist Party chief in Sichuan province are already being investigated or prosecuted as part of Xi Jinping’s corruption crackdown.
Zhou Yongkang’s former protégé, former Chongqing Communist Party chief and high-flyer Bo Xilai, is currently in prison on charges linked to his wife’s murder of a British businessman.
Analysts say the investigation into Zhou Yongkang allows Xi Jinping – who took office as president in March 2013 – to consolidate his power base, remove people opposed to his reforms and improve the image of the Communist Party.
Solar Impulse 2 has left Myanmar for China on the fifth leg of its round-the-world flight.
The solar-powered plane, with Bertrand Piccard at the controls, left Mandalay in Myanmar (Burma) just after 3AM local time on Monday, March 30, and is heading for Chongqing in China.
The intention is to make a brief stop there, and then try to reach Nanjing on the east coast of China.
This would set up Solar Impulse 2 for the first of its big ocean crossings – a five-day, five-night flight to Hawaii.
Mission control will not make a decision on the Nanjing leg until late on Monday, March 30.
The decision may rest on the state of the energy reserves held in the plane’s batteries.
China’s air traffic authorities would like the team to start the sixth leg before dawn. But if the reserves are marginal then Solar Impulse will be held in Chongqing until the batteries can be charged.
The problem with this scenario is that poor weather is forecast in the Chongqing region in the coming days, and if Solar Impulse does not leave straightaway, it could be delayed for perhaps a week.
Solar Impulse 2 took off from Mandalay International Airport in darkness at 03:36 local time, on March 30. Leg five is a long one – about 1,375km – and is expected to take roughly 19 hours.
It would see Solar Impulse landing around midnight local time at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport.
It is 20 days since the venture got under way from Abu Dhabi.
The Swiss-based project expects the circumnavigation of the globe to be completed in a total of 12 legs, with a return to the Emirate in a few months’ time.
Bertrand Piccard is sharing the flying duties in the single-seater plane with his business partner, Andre Borschberg.
In the past month, Solar Impulse 2 has set two world records for manned solar-powered flight.
The first was for the longest distance covered on a single journey – that of 1,468km between Muscat, Oman, and Ahmedabad, India.
The second was for a groundspeed of 117 knots (135mph), which was achieved during the leg into Mandalay, Myanmar, from Varanasi, India.
No solar-powered plane has ever flown around the world.
The Solar Impulse 2 venture does however recall some other recent circumnavigation feats in aviation – albeit fuelled ones.
In 1986, the Voyager aircraft became the first to fly around the world without stopping or refueling.
Piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, the propeller-driven vehicle took nine days to complete its journey.
Then, in 2005, this time was beaten by the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, which was solo-piloted by Steve Fossett.
A jet-powered plane, GlobalFlyer completed its non-stop circumnavigation in just under 3 days.
Solar Impulse 2 has a wingspan of 72m – bigger than that of a 747 jumbo jet airliner – but only weighs 2.3 tonnes.
Its four propellers are dependent on the electricity from 17,000 solar cells that line the top of the wings.
During the night, the props’ motors must call on the excess energy generated and stored during the day in lithium-ion batteries.
China, Japan and South Korea’s foreign ministers are meeting for their first talks since 2012.
The meeting in Seoul is likely to focus on ways to ease regional tensions over territorial and diplomatic disputes.
The three states have strong economic ties but relations still suffer from unresolved issues dating back to Japan’s actions in World War Two.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said he hoped the ministers would be able to “look forward into the future”.
South Korea’s Yun Byung-se welcomed Japan’s Fumio Kishida and China’s Wang Yi to South Korea’s capital on March 21.
Foreign ministers from China, Japan and South Korea last met in April 2012, for their sixth annual trilateral meeting.
It was cancelled the following year after Japanese PM Shinzo Abe angered China and South Korea by visiting a shrine that honors Japan’s war dead, including a number of senior war criminals.
China and South Korea have accused Tokyo of failing to adequately atone for aggression in World War Two, including its wartime use of s** slaves, known euphemistically as “comfort women”.
They also accuse Japan of whitewashing wartime atrocities in schoolbooks.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed hope that South Korea would join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and South Korea’s Yun Byung-se said Seoul was reviewing its options, a South Korean official told Reuters after the meeting of the two ministers.
Fumio Kishida met his South Korean counterpart ahead of the trilateral meeting, and said that “despite difficult issues between the two countries”, the two sides would “continue communicating at various levels in order to strengthen our co-operation”.
The resumption of the foreign ministers’ meeting has fuelled hopes that a summit of the counties’ three leaders could be held later this year.
The poor relationship between Japan and South Korea has become a concern for the US, which sees the two countries as its main military allies in Asia.
Last week, US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel described the tension between its “two friends” as a “strategic liability”.
Saturday’s meeting comes just days after China and Japan held their first high-level security talks in four years.
Those discussions are believed to have centered on the creation of a maritime communication hotline between the countries, following tensions over islands in the East China Sea.
There have been several disputes in recent years over the islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, and officials have expressed fears that a clash could trigger a full-blown conflict.
Prince William has begun a four-day visit to Japan by taking part in a traditional tea ceremony in Tokyo.
The Duke of Cambridge spent about 40 minutes taking part in the ritual at Hama Rikyu Gardens.
He is on a week-long trip to China and Japan where he will undertake engagements to promote UK relations with both countries.
In his first visit to Japan, Prince William also took a speedboat ride to Tokyo Bay, which will host much of the 2020 Summer Olympics.
The last time a major member of British royal family visited Japan was in 2008, when Prince Charles came with his wife Camilla.
Hundreds of students and school children waving British and Japanese flags waited in the rain to greet him.
Kate Middleton is not with Prince William as she is due to give birth to their second child in April.
On the first day of his tour Prince William visited the Nakajima tea house, built 350 years ago in Japan’s Edo period, in the middle of a small lake within the Hama-Rikyu gardens.
As he entered the tea house, Prince William removed his shoes like the other guests, which included Tokyo governor Yoichi Masuzoe.
Dr. Genshitsu Sen, who is 92 and the 15th generation of his family to hold a senior role in the spiritual art of tea making, performed the traditional ceremony.
He also made tea for Prince William’s parents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, when they visited Kyoto in 1986. Close to 100,000 people flocked to a parade in Tokyo at the time, as so-called “Diana Fever” swept the nation.
A number of gifts were given to Prince William, including a box of crackers, a book about the tea ceremony and a modern tea bowl decorated with a horse design in celebration of Prince George.
On February 27, Prince William is due to meet fellow royals Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace.
In this his first visit to Japan, Prince William will also be taken to the areas devastated by the 2011 tsunami and meet survivors.
In Shanghai, Prince William will launch the three-day Great Festival of Creativity at the city’s Long Museum on March 2.
Chinese mining tycoon Liu Han has been executed after being sentenced to death in May 2014 for “leading mafia-style crime and murder”, state media say.
Liu Han’s younger brother, Liu Wei and three other associates were also executed, Xinhua said, after China’s top court signed off on the move.
The former chairman of Hanlong Group is believed to have had links to former security tsar Zhou Yongkang, who is currently being investigated.
The Hanlong Group is a major private conglomerate based in Sichuan province, involved in multiple industries including mining, telecommunications and chemicals.
As head of the company, Liu Han was both rich and very influential.
Xinhua said the company, which had been “harbored and indulged by government officials, had illegally monopolized the gaming business in Guanghan City in Sichuan province, tyrannized local people and seriously harmed the local economic and social order”.
In recent months, several top officials from Sichuan province have come under scrutiny.
Sichuan was a power base of Zhou Yongkang, China’s former domestic security chief who is now the subject of a corruption probe.
Zhou Yongkang was the party secretary in Sichuan before becoming head of China’s public security ministry in 2003.
He was arrested in December 2014, the latest and by far the most senior figure to be handed over to prosecutors as part of President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption.
Official reports do not specifically link Liu Han’s case with Zhou Yongkang.
Liu Han was an associate of Zhou Bin, Zhou Yongkang’s son, the South China Morning Post reported.