China Week: Typhoons to tantrums
I've been chasing a tricky story this week - endless assignations with strangers in hotel rooms. (Don't ask… it'll all become clear soon!) But while I was waiting for planes (delayed by air force exercises and a typhoon) and waiting for no-show interviewees (terrified of retribution from the organisation I'm trying to report on), these are the stories that caught my attention:
Food glorious food
It's been a sickening week for Shanghai's Husi Foods after a TV expose showed staff mixing expired meat into products supplied to the big chains like McDonald's, KFC and Starbucks. By midweek, arrests were under way and China's food inspectors were out doing spot raids on Husi facilities nationwide.
But while state media thunder against the company, three things strike me. Firstly, yet again China's regulators fail to do their job. They carry out inspections, but they don't discover the problems, let alone deal with them.
Secondly, the entire episode is a demonstration - yet again - of the value of investigative journalism at a time when the Chinese government is relentlessly tightening the straitjacket on reporting with ever more punitive regulations.
Thirdly, despite the furore in the media, most ordinary Chinese I talk to about the rotten meat saga say they'll carry on eating at the big international chains. However unsatisfactory standards may be there, the consensus view is that they are probably worse in small local companies which are less accountable on where they buy their food and what they do with it.
Party time for the one-party survivors
The knife attack that changed Kunming
China is in the midst of a massive security crackdown after a series of terror attacks it blames on Muslims from the Uighur ethnic minority in north-west Xinjiang province.
All aboard: China's railway dream
At Asia's biggest rail cargo base in Chengdu in south-west China, the cranes are hard at work, swinging containers from trucks onto a freight train. The containers are filled with computers, clothes, even cars.
Until last year, all of it would have first gone more than 1,000 miles east to Shanghai and then to Europe by sea.
GlaxoSmithKline's China scandal: A cautionary tale?
To observers of China's contemporary business culture it will come as no great surprise that the latest twist in GlaxoSmithKline's China crisis is a sex tape.
The secret filming of business, political and love rivals in intimate situations is now commonplace in China and motivations range from whistle-blowing to blackmail or revenge.
What could China learn from UK?
We're about to witness a blizzard of big numbers around the business deals between China and the UK.
But guess what? I've spent the past ten days asking business insiders (Chinese, British, European) and they all say the deals worth having would happen with or without a prime ministerial handshake.
Why Tiananmen still matters
On the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen, here are 25 thoughts on why 1989 still matters:
How China's young idealists are turning to the soil
In June 1989, on the orders of China's ruling Communist Party, the army crushed pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, killing hundreds of people. Twenty-five years on, a different type of protest against the values of modern China has emerged.
My hunt for China's young idealists, the inheritors of the Tiananmen spirit, started with a three hour drive through snarled traffic. Ironically the route took me first across the north end of Tiananmen Square, under the gaze of Chairman Mao's portrait on the gate of heavenly peace.
Liu Han case: Questions for China's leaders
The Chinese public is a long-suffering witness to the often corrupt relationship between political power and business at the local level. But this case demonstrates that the problem is not just local and not just about power and money but about savage criminality as well.
Murder, illegal detention and blackmail were all part of Liu Han's business culture, but that didn't stop him serving as a delegate on a senior provincial political advisory body.
US justice department charges Chinese with hacking
China always insists it is a victim of hacking, not a perpetrator. And when US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden appeared in Hong Kong a year ago with evidence of US hacking into Chinese networks, Beijing felt vindicated.
The US acknowledges that it conducts espionage but says unlike China it does not spy on foreign companies and pass what it finds to its own companies.