China's 'new normal' - a bit too much like the old normal

  • 29 December 2015
  • From the section China
Xu Ming in 17 January 2002 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Xu Ming, seen here in 2002, was once a business ally of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai

The ashes were delivered within two days of the death. No autopsy for the 44-year-old tycoon whose flamboyant career had culminated in a spectacular political scandal and corruption trial.

But Xu Ming was due for release within months and he had recently told friends he was in excellent condition. So when the man who knew so much about the murky connections between China's political and business elite suddenly died of a reported heart attack on a prison toilet, rumours swirled.

News of his death was suppressed in official media. But on social media, another billionaire commented.

"In the eyes of a government official, we are nothing but a cockroach. If he wants to kill you, he can; if he wants to keep you alive, he can."

2015 was a year in which many of China's high profile businesspeople might have agreed that they enjoyed the trappings of power and wealth only at the whim of the authorities.

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China power audit: The hard and the soft

  • 22 December 2015
  • From the section China
President Xi Image copyright EPA
Image caption President Xi addressed the UN on women's rights

It was a typically gritty day of toxic air and toxic politics in the capital of the world's rising power. Plainclothes police were shoving protesters and journalists outside the courthouse; inside a lawyer was on trial.

Only hours earlier, Chinese negotiators had basked in praise from an unlikely quarter.

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China's about-face on climate change

  • 30 November 2015
  • From the section China
Media captionChina builds the world's largest solar power farm

With a hard pledge on peaking carbon emissions and with ever more ambitious targets on installing renewables, China has become one of the countries to watch at this week's Paris conference.

The Qinghai Tibet plateau is the heart and lungs of Asia. Here, the continent's weather is made and its great rivers are born.

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China one-child policy: U-turn may not bring prosperity

  • 29 October 2015
  • From the section China
A combination of pictures show a person born in each year of China's one child policy. Image copyright Reuters

For more than three decades, the Chinese government has taken control of the most intimate details and choices in people's lives.

It has issued and withheld baby permits, policed menstrual cycles and ordered abortions.

Read full article China one-child policy: U-turn may not bring prosperity

Will it be win-win on Britain's big China gamble?

  • 24 October 2015
  • From the section UK
Xi Jinping and David Cameron Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Despite criticism from some, the UK government is prepared to take risks to "run towards China"

"State visit" doesn't do justice to what we've seen this week.

The Chinese media exulted that their president got a 'redder than red carpet welcome' in the UK and certainly Xi Jinping rarely stepped off the carpet, or went anywhere without a royal at his side.

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'So far, so good' for Xi's British visit

  • 21 October 2015
  • From the section UK
Xi Jinping, Prince William and dalek Image copyright Getty Images

Heaven knows what President Xi thought when he was faced with a dalek from Dr Who and a smouldering love scene on the set of the TV series Poldark.

He must have wondered what eccentric episode was coming next from this odd island people.

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China and 'the Osborne Doctrine'

  • 19 October 2015
  • From the section China
George Osborne makes a speech in front of a large Chinese flag Image copyright PA

"Let's stick together and make a golden decade for both our countries."

The words of British Chancellor George Osborne. With this week's UK state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the British government hopes to step over that golden threshold.

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How China guards the Xi creation myth

  • 18 October 2015
  • From the section Magazine
The cave where President Xi once lived Image copyright AP

The UK says it wants to be China's best friend in the West, and will be laying out the red carpet for the country's new strongman, President Xi Jinping, when he begins a state visit on Monday. But what kind of person is he? I tried to find out by visiting the cave where he lived for seven years in his youth.

I was looking forward to seeing the cave where China's president grew up but as our van skimmed along behind the sleek black sedan, I was nervous too. The man from the propaganda department already had an anxious sheen about him. I foresaw trouble.

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Collision course? Rise of China a stress for the US

  • 26 September 2015
  • From the section China
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, as they arrive for a State Dinner at the White House in Washington, DC, September 25, 2015. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Chinese President Xi Jinping had dinner with the Obamas during their state visit to the US

"The United States welcomes the rise of a China that is peaceful, stable, prosperous and a responsible player in global affairs."

So said President Obama on Friday, standing alongside President Xi at the White House.

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Can UK be China's best partner in the West?

  • 23 September 2015
  • From the section China
Chinese leader Xi Jinping speaks at the start of his US visit in Seattle on 22 September, 2015. Image copyright AFP
Image caption China's Xi Jinping has kick-started his first state visit to the US

Many governments hedge on China. Who, after all, can predict what is going to happen in such a vast and complicated country as it endures the birth pains of modernity and attempts to marry markets with one-party rule and find a fitting place in the international order?

So from Washington to Tokyo, Berlin to Singapore, governments hedge, hoping for the best in China but preparing for outcomes less than the best.

Read full article Can UK be China's best partner in the West?