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China has observed a three-minute silence for the victims of the coronavirus outbreak.

A day of remembrance was declared in China on April 4 to honor the more than 3,300 people who died of Covid-19.

At 10:00 AM local time, people stood still nationwide for three minutes in tribute to the dead.

Cars, trains and ships then sounded their horns, air raid sirens rang as flags were flown at half-mast.

The first cases of coronavirus were detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province at the end of 2019.

Since then, the virus has swept the globe, infecting more than one million people and killing nearly 60,000 in 181 countries.

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In Wuhan, the epicenter of China’s outbreak, all traffic lights in urban areas were turned red at 10:00, ceasing traffic for three minutes.

The Chinese government said the event was a chance to pay respects to “martyrs”, a reference to the 14 medical workers who died battling the virus.

They include Li Wenliang, a doctor in Wuhan who died of Covid-19 after being reprimanded by the authorities for attempting to warn others about the disease.

Wearing white flowers pinned to their chest, China’s President Xi Jinping and other government officials paid silent tribute in Beijing.

The commemorations coincide with the annual Qingming festival, when millions of Chinese families pay respects to their ancestors.

China first informed the WHO about cases of pneumonia with unknown causes on December 31, 2019.

By January 18, 2020, the confirmed number of cases had risen to around 60 – but experts estimated the real figure was closer to 1,700.

Just two days later, as millions of people prepared to travel for the lunar new year, the number of cases more than tripled to more than 200 and the virus was detected in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

From that point, the virus began to spread rapidly in Asia and then Europe, eventually reaching every corner of the globe.

However, in the past few weeks, China has started to ease travel and social-distancing restrictions, believing it has brought the health emergency under control.

Last week, Wuhan partially re-opened after more than two months of isolation.

On April 4, China reported 19 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, down from 31 a day earlier. China’s health commission said 18 of those cases involved travelers arriving from abroad.

As it battles to control cases coming from abroad, China temporarily banned all foreign visitors, even if they have visas or residence permits.

As the coronavirus crisis in China abates, the rest of the world remains firmly in the grip of the disease.

The spread of the deadly coronavirus is accelerating, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned, after holding a special government meeting on the Lunar New Year public holiday.

China is facing a “grave situation” President Xi told senior officials.

The new virus has killed at least 56 people and infected almost 2,000 since its discovery in the city of Wuhan.

Meanwhile, the US has announced that staff at the Wuhan consulate will be evacuated on a special flight on January 28.

According to the State Department, private Americans most at risk will also be able to board the flight to San Francisco.

Meanwhile, UK-based researchers have warned of a real possibility that China will not be able to contain the virus.

Travel restrictions have come in place in several affected cities. From January 26, private vehicles will be banned from central districts of Wuhan, the source of the outbreak.

According to Chinese state newspaper the People’s Daily, a second emergency hospital is to be built there within weeks to handle 1,300 new patients, and will be finished in half a month. It is the second such rapid construction project: work on another 1,000-bed hospital has already begun.

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Specialist military medical teams have also been flown into Hubei province, where Wuhan is located.

The urgency reflects concern both within China and elsewhere about the virus which first appeared in December.

Lunar New Year celebrations for the year of the rat, which began on January 25, have been canceled in many Chinese cities.

Across mainland China, travelers are having their temperatures checked for signs of fever, and train stations have been shut in several cities.

Hong Kong has declared the highest level of emergency and school holidays were extended.

Several other nations are each dealing with a handful of cases, with patients being treated in isolation.

A coronavirus is a family of viruses which include the common cold.

However, this virus has never been seen before. It is called 2019-nCov, for “novel coronavirus”.

New viruses can become common in humans after jumping across the species barrier from animals.

The SARS [Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome] outbreak of 2003 started in bats and transferred to the civet cat which passed it on to humans.

This new Chinese virus also causes severe acute respiratory infection.

Symptoms seem to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough and then, after a week, lead to shortness of breath and some patients needing hospital treatment.

There is no specific cure or vaccine.

Based on early information, it is believed that only a quarter of infected cases are “severe”, and the dead are mostly – though not exclusively – older people, some of whom have pre-existing conditions.

The Chinese authorities suspect a seafood market that “conducted illegal transactions of wild animals” was the source of the outbreak.

President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, have agreed to resume trade talks, easing a long row that has contributed to a global economic slowdown.

The US and China reached agreement at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

President Trump also said he would allow US companies to continue to sell to the Chinese tech giant Huawei, in a move seen as a significant concession.

He had threatened additional trade sanctions on China.

However, after the meeting on the sidelines of the main G20 summit in Japan, President Trump confirmed that the US would not be adding tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports.

He also said he would continue to negotiate with China “for the time being”.

At a subsequent press conference, President Trump declared that US technology companies could again sell to China’s Huawei – effectively reversing a ban imposed last month by the US commerce department.

The US and China have been fighting a damaging trade war over the past year.

Donald Trump accused China of stealing intellectual property and forcing US companies to share trade secrets in order to do business in China, which in turn said US demands for business reform were unreasonable.

The feud escalated in the months leading up to the G20 summit, after talks between the two countries collapsed in May.

The truce signals a pause in hostilities rather than a resolution of the dispute, which has caused market turbulence and hit global growth.

President Trump said his meeting with President Xi was “excellent, as good as it was going to be,” adding: “We discussed a lot of things and we’re right back on track and we’ll see what happens.”

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China’s state news agency Xinhua quoted President Xi as saying: “China and the US have highly integrated interests and extensive co-operation areas and they should not fall into so-called traps of conflict and confrontation.”

Washington has publicly said Huawei’s technology poses a national security risk, although President Trump has also linked the issue to the trade dispute.

Last month, the US banned Huawei from buying US goods without a license – including from Google, which is crucial to many of its products. The ban could cost the firm $30 billion in revenue this year.

President Trump’s decision to allow US companies to continue to sell to Huawei “where there’s no great national security problem” could be a substantial concession, although exactly how this will play out remains unclear.

He said the Huawei situation would be dealt with “at the very end” of trade talks.

The next summit is due to be held in Saudi Arabia in November 2020.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has continued to face questions in Japan over the murder in Istanbul last year of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the matter is likely to rumble on.

The UK and Turkey are among the countries still pressing the issue, although President Trump says “no-one blames” the Saudi crown prince.

Image source Pixabay

President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping have agreed to suspend new trade tariffs for 90 days to allow for talks, the White House announces.

At a post-G20 summit meeting in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, President Trump agreed not to boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% on January 1.

China will buy a “very substantial” amount of agricultural, industrial and energy products, the US says.

Meanwhile, China says the two sides agreed to open up their markets.

It was the first face-to-face meeting between President Trump and President Xi since a trade war erupted earlier this year.

The dispute broke out after President Trump complained China was doing nothing to cut its large surplus in bilateral trade.

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At the summit in Buenos Aires on December 1, the G20 leaders agreed a joint declaration that notes divisions over trade but does not criticize protectionism.

Presidents Trump and Xi held a “highly successful meeting”, the White House said in a statement.

The White House says the US tariffs on Chinese goods will remain unchanged for 90 days, but warns: “If at the end of this period of time, the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the 10 percent tariffs will be raised to 25 percent.”

The US says China agreed to “purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other products from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries”.

According to the White House, both sides also pledged to “immediately begin negotiations on structural changes with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft”.

President Trump said earlier this year he wanted to stop the “unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China”.

According to the US, China has also signaled it will allow a tie-up between two major semiconductor manufacturers which Chinese regulators have been blocking.

The White House statement said China was “open to approving the previously unapproved Qualcomm-NXP deal”.

The US also says China agreed to designate Fentanyl as a controlled substance. The opioid – much of it thought to be made in China – is driving a huge rise in drug addiction in the US.

Both sides have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of goods. The US has hit $250 billion of Chinese goods with tariffs since July, and China has retaliated by imposing duties on $110 billion of US products.

President Trump had also said that if talks in Argentina were unsuccessful, he would carry out a threat to hit the remaining $267 billion of annual Chinese exports to the US with tariffs of between 10 and 25%.

China has removed the term limits for presidency, in a move that effectively allows Xi Jinping to remain as president for life.

The constitutional changes were passed by the annual sitting of the National People’s Congress on March 11.

The vote was widely regarded as a rubber-stamping exercise. Two delegates voted against the change and three abstained, out of 2,964 votes.

Since the 1990’s, China had imposed a two-term limit on its president.

However, President Xi Jinping, who would have been due to step down in 2023, defied the tradition of presenting a potential successor during October’s Communist Party Congress.

Image source Wikimedia

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Instead, Xi Jinping consolidated his political power as the party voted to enshrine his name and political ideology in the party’s constitution – elevating his status to the level of its founder, Chairman Mao.

On paper, the congress is the most powerful legislative body in China – similar to the parliament in other nations. It was widely believed that it would approve what it was told to.

Xi Jinping became president in 2012, and quickly consolidated personal power while cementing China as the regional superpower.

He also fought corruption, punishing more than a million party members – which has helped his popularity among some.

However, at the same time, China has clamped down on many emerging freedoms, increasing its state surveillance and censorship programs. Critics also say Xi Jinping has used the anti-corruption purge to sideline political rivals.


President Donald Trump has landed in Beijing for a visit likely to focus heavily on trade and tensions with North Korea.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has prepared a lavish reception for President Trump.

Earlier, in a speech to the South Korean parliament, President Trump urged China to sever ties with North Korea.

President Trump is in China as part of a five-nation tour of Asia. He has also visited Japan so far.

Before his arrival, President Trump piled praise on President Xi, saying he was looking forward to meeting the Chinese leader after “his great political victory”.

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Xi Jinping recently consolidated his power at a Chinese Communist Party congress, a move analysts say will make him less likely to reach compromise with President Trump.

Despite his congratulations, there are tensions between the two men, with President Trump having attacked China over its allegedly unfair trade practices.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania are scheduled to visit the Forbidden City, for centuries the home of China’s emperors, followed by afternoon tea.

The president’s arrival came just hours after his speech in the South Korean capital Seoul, in which he described North Korea as “a hell that no person deserves”.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has sparked international alarm, with Pyongyang carrying out its biggest nuclear test yet in September. In typically stark language, Donald Trump warned North Korea: “Do not underestimate us. Do not try us.”

However, there were hints though he might be open to a deal, telling North Korea “we will offer you a path for a better future”.

Singling out Russia and China, President Trump urged “all responsible nations” to isolate North Korea, and fully implement UN sanctions, downgrade diplomatic ties and sever trade and technology ties.

“You cannot support, you cannot supply, you cannot accept,” he said.

China is North Korea’s only major ally, but says it is committed to the UN sanctions and argues its leverage is overestimated.


President Donald Trump has criticized China following North Korea’s test of a long-range missile, condemning it for increasing trade with Pyongyang.

He tweeted: “So much for China working with us.”

Meanwhile, the US and South Korea conducted a ballistic missile fire exercise in the Sea of Japan in response to North Korea’s action.

China and Russia have urged both sides to stop flexing their military muscle and said they oppose any attempts at regime change in North Korea.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: “It is perfectly clear to Russia and China that any attempts to justify the use of force by referring to [United Nations] Security Council resolutions are unacceptable, and will lead to unpredictable consequences in this region which borders both the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.”

“Attempts to strangle the DPRK [North Korea] economically are equally unacceptable,” he added.

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North Korea’s missile launch, the latest in a series of tests, was in defiance of a ban by the UN Security Council.

Image source YouTube

The US has asked for an urgent meeting of the Security Council to discuss the issue. A closed-door session of the 15-member body will take place later on July 5.

President Trump held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida in April.

After those meetings, President Trump hailed “tremendous progress” with China.

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The trade figures showing an increase in trade between China and North Korea, which he was apparently referring to in July 5 critical tweet.

President Trump is now en route to Poland and Germany, where he will meet President Xi Jinping for the second time.

China, which is North Korea’s main economic ally, and Russia have called on the North to suspend its ballistic missile program in exchange for a halt on the large-scale military exercises by the US and South Korea.

President Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who met in Moscow on July 4, said “the opposing sides should start negotiations”.

On July 4, Japan said “repeated provocations like this are absolutely unacceptable” and lodged a protest.


China’s President Xi Jinping is making his first visit to Hong Kong as leader.

His visit marks 20 years since Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain.

The highly symbolic visit comes amid an increasingly tense political climate.

Official celebrations are planned, as well as large protests from pro-democracy and pro-Beijing camps.

Several well-known activists were arrested on the eve of Xi Jinping’s arrival.

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The group, which included student leader Joshua Wong, had staged a protest at an iconic sculpture symbolizing the handover.

Image source Reuters

The golden sculpture of a bauhinia flower – Hong Kong’s emblem – by the city’s harbor was a gift from China.

President Xi Jinping arrived for the three-day visit with his wife Peng Liyuan at Hong Kong’s main Chek Lap Kok airport. The couple was welcomed by a marching band and children waving flags.

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In a brief speech on the tarmac, President Xi said Hong Kong was “always in my heart”.

Beijing’s central government “has always been a strong backer of Hong Kong” and “will, as always, support Hong Kong’s economic development and improvement of people’s lives”.

President Xi also said Beijing was “willing to work with all sectors of Hong Kong’s society in maintaining Hong Kong’s extraordinary journey these past 20 years”, and would “ensure ‘one country, two systems’ will continue with stability”.

Hong Kong was handed back from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

Beijing agreed to govern it under “one country, two systems”, granting the city its own legal system, limited democracy with multiple political parties, and rights like freedom of assembly and free speech.

However, China’s growing influence has been met with unease and concerns that the mainland could undermine Hong Kong’s more politically liberal traditions.

Activists have been campaigning for years for Hong Kong to have more political freedom.

The White House has announced that President Donald Trump agreed to honor America’s “One China” policy in a phone call with President Xi Jinping.

The “One China” policy is the diplomatic acknowledgement that there is only one Chinese government.

Donald Trump had placed the long-standing policy in doubt when he had a phone call with Taiwan’s president.

Previous presidents have followed China’s lead in not recognizing Taiwan as an independent nation.

Under the “One China” policy, the US recognizes and has formal ties with China rather than the island of Taiwan, which China sees as a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland one day.

The White House said the two presidents discussed a wide range of issues during a lengthy call on February 9.

A statement described the call as “extremely cordial” and said the two leaders had invited each other to visit.

The call followed a letter sent by Donald Trump to Xi Jinping on February 9 – the president’s first direct approach to the Chinese leader.

Donald Trump baited China throughout his campaign, accusing it of unfair trade practices and threatening to challenge its military build up in the South China Sea.

Beijing responded cautiously, expressing “serious concern” about Donald Trump’s position on the One China policy and urging the US to maintain close ties with China.


China and Taiwan have held historic talks in Singapore – their first in more than 60 years.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou shook hands at the start of the talks, which were seen as largely symbolic.

China views Taiwan as a breakaway province which will one day be reunited with the mainland.

However, many Taiwanese see it as independent and are concerned at China’s growing influence.

“Both sides should respect each other’s values and way of life,” Ma Ying-jeou said as the talks began at a luxury hotel.

Xi Jinping told the Taiwanese leader: “We are one family.”China and Taiwan talks in Singapore

“The meeting between the leaders across the Taiwan Strait has opened a historic chapter in the cross-Strait relations, and history will remember today,” he added.

The meeting took place in neutral territory on the sidelines of a state visit by Xi Jinping to Singapore.

Relations between China and Taiwan have improved under Ma Ying-jeou since he took office in 2008, with better economic ties, improving tourism links, and a trade pact signed.

The two sides split in 1949 when the Kuomintang lost to the Chinese Communist Party in the civil war and set up a new government in Taiwan.

Ma Ying-jeou described the talks as “positive and friendly”, but no major agreements or deals appear to have been reached.

He said in advance that the issue of the South China Sea disputes, which has dominated recent concerns in the region, would not be brought up.

Xi Jinping raised the issue in a speech at the National University of Singapore before the meeting, saying China has always hoped to settle the disputes peacefully.

Ma Ying-jeou proposed reducing hostility across the Taiwan Strait, expanding exchanges and establishing a cross-strait hotline, according to Taiwan’s central news agency.

He said this was part of consolidating the “1992 consensus” – the agreement under which both sides recognize the principle of “one China” but define it in their own ways.

Similar remarks were made by Xi Jinping, who said upholding the consensus would help “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.

In Taipei there were protests before the talks and one group tried to enter the Taiwanese parliament building.

AFP said there were arrests at Taipei’s Songshan airport as Ma Ying-jeou left early on November 7, where opponents of closer ties between Taiwan and China tried to set fire to images of the two leaders.

A small group supporting Ma Ying-jeou also turned up at the airport.

State media in China have heralded the meeting, though Taiwan has had a more divided reaction where opposition parties and activists have called for Ma Ying-jeou to back out.


Taiwan and China will hold a historic summit in Singapore as President Ma Ying-jeou will meet his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, on November 7.

The summit will be the first ever meeting between leaders of the two sides.

Ma Ying-jeou and Xi Jinping said the talks would focus on relations across the Taiwan Straits.

China claims sovereignty over Taiwan and views the island as a breakaway province which will one day be reunited with the mainland.

However, ties have improved since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008.

The Chinese government threatens to use military force against Taiwan if it ever attempts to gain outright independence.China and Taiwan summit Singapore 2015

Taiwanese spokesman Chen Yi-hsin said President Ma Ying-jeou’s aim was “to promote peace cross the Taiwan Strait and maintain status quo”.

Ma Ying-jeou will hold a news conference on November 5 to explain his decision to hold the talks. More details are also expected from Taiwan’s mainland affairs council on November 4.

China’s official Xinhua news agency said the two sides would “exchange views on promoting the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations”.

In a sign of how politically sensitive the meeting is, the two leaders will address each other as Mr. Xi and Mr. Ma, rather than president, one Chinese government official has said.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the US welcomed any steps to reduce tensions and improve relations, but added: “We’ll have to see what actually comes out of the meeting.”

Ties with China have improved under President Ma Ying-jeou, whose Kuomintang (KMT) party is seen as pro-Beijing.

In July 2009, the two leaders exchanged direct messages for the first time in more than 60 years, albeit in their respective party functions, and not as national leaders.

In 2010, China and Taiwan signed a historic trade pact.

However, correspondents say growing fears over China’s influence has led to widespread dissatisfaction in Taiwan.

The KMT party suffered a crushing defeat in local elections in 2015, a result that was widely seen as a rejection of President Ma Ying-jeou’s push for closer ties with China.

Ma Ying-jeou steps down next year having served two terms, and earlier this month the KMT dropped its candidate for January’s presidential election following a series of poor ratings in opinion polls.

Analysts say China is likely to see a meeting between the two leaders as a final chance to press its case for improved ties, in case the KMT loses the election.

China has insisted that countries cannot have official relations with both China and Taiwan, with the result that Taiwan has formal diplomatic ties with only 21 UN member states.

Taiwan also has no seat at the UN, having lost it to China in 1971. Repeated attempts to regain representation at the UN have been blocked.

China’s President Xi Jinping has met US tech leaders in Seattle.

He has promised to strengthen protections on intellectual property and clear obstacles to investment in China.

Speaking at the Seattle meeting, Xi Jinping said: “Without reform, there will be no driving force; without opening up, there will be no progress.”

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Apple CEO Tim Cook were among those attending.

US tech companies are eager to tap into China’s massive market of consumers.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Xi Jinping addressed recent China’s recent economic troubles, and said the government was taking steps to address it.

However, the president said: “I believe in the long run that the fundamentals of the Chinese economy are good.”

Xi Jinping stressed that reaching agreements to ensure continued robust international trade was a top priority.

US officials have said the two countries have made progress in negotiating a new trade agreement, but key issues remain unresolved.

Former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson moderated a closed-door discussion with more than 30 business leaders before Xi Jinping’s public remarks.

Representatives from Twitter, Facebook and Google were notably missing from the event as China blocks those companies’ websites.

However, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg joined Jeff Bezos and President Xi Jinping later on the day as they toured Microsoft’s corporate campus in suburban Seattle.

Xi Jinping travels to Washington DC on September 24 to meet President Barack Obama.


China has marked the defeat of Japan in World War Two with a huge military parade in Beijing, showcasing its military might on an unprecedented scale.

President Xi Jinping in his opening speech paid tribute to “the Chinese people who unwaveringly fought hard and defeated aggression” from Japan.

He also said the People’s Liberation Army would be reduced by 300,000 personnel, but gave no timeframe.

The country’s growing military power is being keenly watched amid regional tensions.

China has several territorial disputes with neighbors in the South China Sea, as well as with Japan in the East China Sea.

Ahead of the parade, the US said five Chinese ships had been spotted in the Bering Sea off Alaska for the first time.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

More than 30 foreign government officials and heads of state including Russian President Vladimir Putin and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attended the event.

However, many Western leaders and Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe have stayed away.

Some 12,000 troops and 200 aircraft, as well as tanks and missiles, were on display in Tiananmen Square, including the anti-ship “carrier killer” missile Dongfeng-21D.

More than 80% of the machinery on display was being shown to the general public for the first time, according to state media.

President Xi Jinping, also the commander of the armed forces, was centre stage at the parade’s proceedings.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the world’s largest military, with 2.3 million members. China also has the second biggest defense budget after the US.

In the build-up to the event, state media have published commentaries reinforcing Chinese patriotism and views on historical events.

Entertainment shows were also suspended on television to make way for the coverage.

Beijing’s normally smoggy skies were unusually blue, after factories were closed, barbecues banned and cars stopped from travelling to reduce pollution.

Concerns about China’s growing military assertiveness and the tone of the parade meant many Western and Asian leaders stayed away from the event.


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.China Taiwan talks May 2015

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.

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.China highway to 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.


Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe have met for formal talks after more than two years of severe tension over a territorial dispute.

Xi Jinping and Shinzo Abe met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit in Beijing.

Their first meeting included a public handshake with little sign of warmth.

In a speech to APEC, President Barack Obama has meanwhile announced big changes to visa arrangements with China.

Multiple entry short-term visas for businessmen and tourists will be extended to 10 years – up from one year.

Those for students rise from one year to five.

Barack Obama also stressed the importance of ties between China and the US, saying “the US welcomes the rise of a prosperous, peaceful and stable China.”

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping have met for formal talks after more than two years of severe tension over a territorial dispute

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping have met for formal talks after more than two years of severe tension over a territorial dispute

His comments come amid underlying tension between the US and China over Beijing’s growing regional influence.

Relations between China and Japan have long been soured by a row over islands in the East China Sea.

The uninhabited but strategically important islands, known as Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan, are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China.

Tokyo’s decision to purchase three of them from their private Japanese owner in September 2012 led to an escalation in a dispute that has rumbled quietly for years.

The Chinese and Japanese leaders interacted awkwardly as they posed for an unsmiling photo after their talks.

Shinzo Abe said the meeting – which came three days after the two sides agreed to work to prevent the territorial dispute from escalating – was “the first step for improving ties by returning to mutually beneficial relations based on common strategic interests”.

He also said they had agreed to start preparations to establish a maritime crisis mechanism.

There have been fears that a clash – accidental or otherwise – between Chinese and Japanese paramilitary vessels patrolling waters around the disputed islands could trigger a conflict.

Xi Jinping told Shinzo Abe that China hoped Japan would follow a path of peaceful development and adopt prudent military and security policies.

Relations have also been hampered by what China sees as Japan’s failure to adequately acknowledge its war-time conduct.

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Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Beijing for the annual China-US dialogue.

China’s President Xi Jinping has called for mutual respect between the two nations, saying that a confrontation with the US would be a “disaster”.

Diplomats are expected to discuss China’s currency, North Korea and tensions in the South China Sea.

The US delegation is led by John Kerry, who in his opening remarks said that the US was not seeking to “contain” China.

Xi Jinping said the two countries’ interests were now “more than ever interconnected”, with much to gain from co-operation.

US diplomats at the Beijing talks are expected to discuss China's currency, North Korea and tensions in the South China Sea

US diplomats at the Beijing talks are expected to discuss China’s currency, North Korea and tensions in the South China Sea

“China-US confrontation, to the two countries and the world, would definitely be a disaster,” he said.

“We should mutually respect and treat each other equally, and respect the other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and respect each other’s choice on the path of development.”

John Kerry, meanwhile, said the US did “not seek to contain China” and urged Beijing not to “interpret it as an overall strategy” when the US differed from China on certain issues.

President Barack Obama also said in a statement that the US “welcomes the emergence of a stable, peaceful, and prosperous China”.

“We remain determined to ensure that co-operation defines the overall relationship,” he said.

US leaders have also called on China to do its part in maintaining stability in Asia.

John Kerry said the US welcomed a China that “contributes to the stability and development of the region and chooses to play a responsible role in world affairs”.

The talks come with China locked in bitter disputes with several neighbors in the region, notably Vietnam and the Philippines, over claims in the South China Sea.

In turn, the US has stepped up joint military exercises with the Philippines and its military presence there, a move over which China has raised concerns. One of the latest exercises was conducted in the South China Sea near disputed waters two weeks ago.

Increased anti-Japan rhetoric has also come from China in recent weeks, following a decision by the Japanese cabinet to reinterpret the constitution, giving the Japanese military greater latitude to fight overseas.

Both countries claim a string of islands in the East China Sea and ties are severely strained over this issue.

The US and China have also had disagreements in recent months, particularly over cyber-attacks.

In May, US authorities charged five Chinese military officers with hacking into American businesses. Beijing has vigorously denied the charges, accusing the US of launching cyber-attacks against China.

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Two suspected short-range missiles have been launched by North Korea, South Korea says, in the fourth such test in two weeks.

The projectiles were fired from a western province into waters east of the Korean peninsula in the early hours of Wednesday, officials said.

The move follows a recent visit by the Chinese president to South Korea.

Chinese leaders traditionally go to Pyongyang before Seoul, and the visit has been seen as a snub to North Korea.

North Korea has fired two suspected short-range missiles into the sea

North Korea has fired two suspected short-range missiles into the sea

“North Korea fired two short-range missiles presumed to be Scud-type ones… from a site in Hwanghae province in a north-easterly direction,” South Korean spokesman Um Hyo-sik was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.

“They flew some 500km [310 miles] and landed in international waters,” he added, without giving further details.

North Korea has carried out several such launches in recent months, including four within the last two weeks.

It has interspersed these launches with apparently conciliatory moves towards the South, including a recent offer to suspend provocative military activities and cross-border slander.

Previous similar offers have come to nothing and South Korea has dismissed this latest offer.

The latest launch also comes days after Chinese President Xi Jinping and his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye reaffirmed their opposition to North Korean nuclear tests during talks in Seoul.

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China’s President Xi Jinping has arrived in South Korea for a two-day visit set to focus on North Korea.

It is the first time a Chinese leader has visited Seoul before Pyongyang, and comes amid cooler China-North Korea ties.

China is North Korea’s biggest trading ally and the nation most able to wield influence over it.

However, in recent months Beijing has appeared increasingly frustrated with its unreliable neighbor.

Xi Jinping and Park Geun-hye would fully exchange views on the nuclear issue and the stalled six-party talks aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions

Xi Jinping and Park Geun-hye would fully exchange views on the nuclear issue and the stalled six-party talks aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions

Last year, North Korea carried out its third nuclear test and there are reports that it could be planning a fourth.

Xi Jinping and South Korean President Park Geun-hye are also expected to discuss growing economic ties, as the two nations work towards a free-trade agreement.

Wider strategic concerns are also in focus. Both China and South Korea are at odds with Japan over historical issues. But Seoul, like Tokyo, is a major US ally.

South East Asian nations that are, like Japan, involved in territorial disputes with Beijing are also moving closer to the US. So China will be keen to shore up ties with Seoul.

The Chinese president is said to enjoy a friendly relationship with ParkGeun-hye with whom he will hold talks.

The is the fifth summit between the two presidents since both took office. Park Geun-hye visited Beijing last year.

Xi Jinping’s visit comes a day after North Korea fired short-range rockets into the sea, the latest in a series of recent missile tests.

Ahead of the visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said that pushing for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula remained Chinese policy.

Xi Jinping and Park Geun-hye would “fully exchange views” on the nuclear issue and the stalled six-party talks aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions, he said.

A key issue for China is to maintain stability in North Korea. It fears that regime collapse could propel a flood of refugees across its border and also lead to a unified Korea allied to the US.

While the Chinese media outlets have in recent months voiced growing concern over Pyongyang’s actions, Xi Jinping is unlikely to speak out strongly.

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According to South Korean reports, North Korea has fired two more short-range rockets into the sea, the latest in a series of recent missile tests.

The rockets were fired off the east coast and flew about 110 miles, South Korean military officials said.

The move comes as China’s President Xi Jinping prepares to visit South Korea, with whom North Korea is technically at war.

It also comes a day after Japan urged Pyongyang to stop such launches and after Seoul rejected a North Korean offer to end hostilities as insincere.

The two rockets were fired from a site near the eastern city of Wonsan at 06:50 and 08:00, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

North Korea has fired two more short-range rockets into the sea

North Korea has fired two more short-range rockets into the sea

North Korea appeared to be testing the range of the projectiles, Yonhap news agency reported, citing military officials. It also carried out similar tests on June 26 and 29.

To date North Korea has carried out three nuclear tests and is believed to be working on long-range missile development. In recent months it has also carried out a steady stream of short-range missile tests.

Talks between North Korea’s leaders and other nations on ending its nuclear ambitions have been stalled for years.

China, which is North Korea’s biggest trading ally, is the nation believed to wield the most influence over Pyongyang.

But Beijing appears increasingly frustrated with its unreliable neighbor.

The issue of North Korea – including possible plans for a fourth nuclear test – is expected to top the agenda during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Seoul, which begins on Thursday.

North Korea has also in recent weeks alternated between threatening South Korea and offering apparent concessions.

On Monday Pyongyang offered to suspend hostile military activities and slander, a move Seoul described as “nonsensical”.

North Korea has made similar offers in the past but these have invariably broken down.

North Korea is also currently engaged in talks with Japan on the issue of Japanese nationals it abducted in the 1970s and 1980s to teach language and culture to its spies.

Japan criticized Sunday’s rocket launch at the start of one-day talks in Beijing on Tuesday, at which no breakthroughs were reported.

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China’s top military official, General Xu Caihou, has been accused of accepting bribes and expelled from the Communist Party, state media report.

Gen. Xu Caihou was once a member of China’s elite decision-making body, the Politburo. He will now be handed over to prosecutors for a court martial.

Xu Caihou is believed to have been held under house arrest for several months.

Analysts say this could be the biggest military scandal China has seen for many years.

General Xu Caihou has been accused of accepting bribes and expelled from China’s Communist Party

General Xu Caihou has been accused of accepting bribes and expelled from China’s Communist Party

Xinhua agency reported that China’s President Xi Jinping had presided over a Politburo meeting about military discipline and approved the decision to expel Gen. Xu Caihou and hand him over to military prosecutors.

Rumors about the investigation into Gen. Xu Caihou had circulated for months. Many believed poor health – he is reported to have been treated for cancer – would save him from prosecution.

However, this move is being presented in state media as part of the government’s battle against corruption.

Two other high profile figures were also expelled from the Communist Party for corruption on Monday – Jiang Jiemin, the former head of the state asset regulator, and Wang Yongchun, the deputy head of the state energy giant China National Petroleum Company (CNPC).

The spate of expulsions comes at a time when speculation is rife about the fate of one of China’s most powerful politicians, former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, who is allegedly being investigated over allegations of corruption and abuse of power.

Tens of thousands of officials have been arrested since President Xi Jinping began an anti-corruption campaign in 2012.

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Xi Jinping will arrive in the Netherlands later today for his first trip to Europe as China’s president.

President Xi Jinping’s tour will include France, Germany and Belgium as well as the headquarters of the EU in Brussels.

A 200-strong business delegation will join him on a trip that is expected to be dominated by trade – possibly including an order for 150 Airbus jets.

Xi Jinping is also likely to face pressure from Western powers to be firmer with Russia over its actions in Ukraine.

China usually supports Russia in foreign-policy issues, but last week declined to fully back its ally over Ukraine.

Beijing abstained from a vote at the UN that would have condemned Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

Xi Jinping will arrive in the Netherlands later today for his first trip to Europe as China’s president

Xi Jinping will arrive in the Netherlands later today for his first trip to Europe as China’s president (photo Reuters)

A tit-for-tat trade dispute, with China targeting French wine after the EU imposed tariffs on Chinese solar panels, was only resolved on Friday.

Xi Jinping will be welcomed by Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima at the start of his state visit to the Netherlands.

He arrives in advance of a G7 meeting on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague next week.

Xi Jinping is expected to discuss the situation in Ukraine with President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the summit.

Correspondents say the Chinese president is likely to repeat Beijing’s call for “calm and restraint” in the crisis.

The Chinese leader will also meet French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on his trip, which ends in Belgium on April 1.

One side issue of note from the visit comes from reports in the German press suggesting that the Chinese delegation had asked for an official visit, accompanied by Chancellor Angela Merkel, to a Holocaust memorial.

Berlin is said to have refused, fearing that it would be used by China as propaganda to highlight its complaint that Japan has not done enough to atone for its militaristic past.

Der Spiegel reports that the Chinese delegation has been told that President Xi Jinping is free to visit memorials in his own time.

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China’s President Xi Jinping’s visit to a fast-food restaurant last month was reported across the globe, and has now inspired a song too.

Wu Songjin, a Guangzhou-based composer, said his new song Pork Bun Shop was inspired by footage of President Xi Jinping queuing up to order a reasonably-priced meal, according to Sichuan newspaper West China City Daily.

The visit was part of the president’s campaign to put his party back in touch with the people.

Pork Bun Shop song was inspired by footage of President Xi Jinping queuing up to order a reasonably-priced meal

Pork Bun Shop song was inspired by footage of President Xi Jinping queuing up to order a reasonably-priced meal

Wu Songjin says he was “moved” by the spectacle, and wrote the song with lyricist Zou Dangrong just in ten days.

Three singers recorded different versions of the song, all of which were popular with customers at the Beijing shop when Wu Songjin played them some samples. One customer said the “lyrics are simple, it’s down-to-earth and spreads positive energy”.

The newspaper reports that Professor Zhao Shilin, of Minzu Central University, claimed the song was reflective of a cult of personality, and “seriously damaged the leader’s image”.

Pork Bun Shop goes on sale at the end of January, to mark Chinese Lunar New Year. Singers from various regions of China are reportedly recording dialect versions already.

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US Vice-President Joe Biden has arrived in Beijing for meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

His visit to Asia has been dominated by a row over China’s newly-declared air zone, which covers East China Sea disputed islands controlled by Japan.

Joe Biden arrived from Tokyo, where he reaffirmed the US alliance with Japan.

The vice-president attended an official welcome ceremony in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People where he met China’s Vice-President Li Yuanchao, and said China and the US should expand practical co-operation and deliver results.

On Thursday he will visit China’s leadership compound, known as Zhongnanhai.

While in Tokyo, Joe Biden said he would raise concerns over China’s new air zone “in great specificity” during meetings with China’s leaders.

Jo Biden and Xi Jinping are said to enjoy a relatively close relationship.

Joe Biden has arrived in Beijing for meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang

Joe Biden has arrived in Beijing for meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang

China announced a new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) last month, and said aircraft flying through the zone must follow its rules, including filing flight plans.

The ADIZ covers islands claimed and controlled by Japan, and a submerged rock claimed by South Korea.

The US, Japan and South Korea have rejected China’s zone, and flown undeclared military aircraft through the ADIZ.

On Friday, China scrambled fighter jets to monitor US and Japanese planes flying in the area.

Tokyo has told its national carriers not to file flight plans with the Chinese side when transiting the zone, but on Friday the US said it expected its carriers to “operate consistent with Notams [Notices to Airmen] issued by foreign countries”.

This did not indicate “US government acceptance of China’s requirements for operating in the newly-declared ADIZ”, the state department said.

Speaking in Tokyo on Tuesday, Joe Biden said the US was “deeply concerned by the attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea.”

On Wednesday, Chinese state media criticized Joe Biden’s comments.

“Washington has obviously taken Japan’s side,” state-run newspaper China Daily said in an editorial.

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China has decided to ban the construction of government buildings for the next five years, according to state media.

The move comes as part of a campaign by President Xi Jinping to show that the ruling Communist Party (CPC) is cracking down on corruption and waste.

Glitzy new government buildings, sometimes in impoverished areas, have been a source of public outrage.

The directive forbids luxury makeovers and expansions done under the guise of repair work, Xinhua newspaper said.

The notice says some departments and local authorities have built huge government office compounds against regulations, tainting the image of the CPC.

Chinese state-owned drug company building decorated to mimic France's Versailles palace, complete with gold-tinted walls and chandeliers

Chinese state-owned drug company building decorated to mimic France’s Versailles palace, complete with gold-tinted walls and chandeliers

Among the buildings that have attracted widespread disapproval in recent years is the western-style government office building in the city of Fuyang in Anhui province, in eastern China.

It reportedly cost 30 million yuan ($4.89 million) to build and is referred to as the “White House” by residents.

A state-owned drug company also caused outrage after photographs emerged apparently showing a building decorated to mimic France’s Versailles palace, complete with gold-tinted walls and chandeliers.

Some government agencies have reportedly built luxury offices in seaside resorts where officials can stay for free or at deeply discounted prices.

The ban – described as an “across-the-board halt” – includes training centres, hotels or government motels, Xinhua said.

It also says government organizations should not receive sponsorship or donations towards construction projects, or collaborate with private companies.

“Banning the building of new government buildings is important for building a clean government and also a requirement for boosting CPC-people ties and maintaining the image of the CPC and the government,” Xinhua quoted the directive as saying.

Tackling corruption has been President Xi Jinping’s most high-profile policy since he became China’s leader earlier this year.

Xi Jinping has warned that “corruption and bribe-taking by some party members and cadres” pose “severe challenges” to the Communist Party’s rule.