Europe's migrant crisis: Tricky business to resolve

  • 8 March 2016
  • From the section Europe
Migrants at the Idomeni camp (07 March 2016) Image copyright Visar Kryeziu, AP
Image caption Greece says that it risks being overwhelmed by the migrant crisis and is appealing for the EU to help out.

European leaders are billing their new proposal to deal with the refugee and migrant influx as a "game-changer", but the scheme is not agreed yet and there are doubts about whether it it is practical or even legal.

The centrepiece is a plan to take any refugees and migrants who cross the sea to Greece in smugglers' boats and return them, directly, to Turkey.

European Union officials say whatever is finally agreed "will comply with both European and international law". Privately, though, some admit that, while the assessment of their lawyers is "quite promising", there are legal hurdles that must be overcome.

So can Europe carry out mass returns of entire groups of people? UN officials have cited the European Convention on Human Rights, arguing that it explicitly prohibits the collective expulsion of foreigners. And they say that under international law, it is not illegal for someone fleeing persecution and conflict to cross a border and ask for asylum.

The problem with mass returns

Around 90% of those arriving in the Greek islands say they are fleeing conflict, primarily from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. Under international law, each person's case must be heard on an individual basis, not as a group, because they may have very good reasons for seeking protection.

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Uncovering China's illegal ivory trade

  • 13 February 2014
  • From the section China
Media captionDamian Grammaticas investigates China's illegal ivory trade

A major conference in London is considering how to protect Africa's wildlife, including rhinos and elephants, from an unprecedented surge in illegal trafficking. Conservationists warn that the growth in the illegal ivory trade means elephants could be wiped out in parts of Africa in the next few years. As demand from China pushes levels of poaching and smuggling to new highs, we investigate China's illegal ivory traders.

In a nondescript shopping mall in Beijing sellers offering antiques and artworks are crammed together. The shops are piled high with stone carvings, jade and ivory. Some have whole elephant tusks on display, others ivory figures, statues and intricately worked scenes.

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Tibetan immolations: Desperation as world looks away

  • 2 December 2013
  • From the section China
Media captionBBC's Damian Grammaticas has gained rare access to the region

It's sunrise and 20 degrees below zero. The sound of monks at prayer drifts across the snow-lined valley.

We are high in the jagged mountains that rise towards the Tibetan plateau. Harsh and beautiful, this region outside Tibet itself is home to six million Tibetans.

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Tiananmen crash: China police 'seek Xinjiang suspects'

  • 29 October 2013
  • From the section China

The two men police want information about have Uighur names and come from areas in Xinjiang where there has been significant violence.

One man is from Lukun in Shanshan county, where around 30 people died in June this year. A BBC team were prevented from reaching the scene.

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China anti-corruption activists on trial in Jiangxi

  • 28 October 2013
  • From the section China

Xinyu, where this trial is taking place, is a gritty, polluted place - rows of grey concrete apartment blocks and giant factory chimneys. It is perhaps an apt setting. A year ago, when Xi Jinping took over as the head of the Communist Party, some hoped a new, younger leader might bring reforms to China, more tolerance of critics, more freedoms.

Instead, with this prosecution in this gritty city, those hopes for change have faded. Mr Xi appears to be overseeing an intensifying crackdown that goes beyond anything his predecessors did, designed to reinforce his authority and that of the party too.

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Going nuclear: UK's deal with China

  • 17 October 2013
  • From the section China
George Osborne chats with Taishan Nuclear Power General Manager Guo in front of nuclear reactor under construction in Taishan (17 Oct 2013) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption George Osborne sees Chinese involvement in Britain's nuclear industry as a great opportunity

Perched high on top of one of the giant new reactor buildings under construction at Taishan we had a view over the entire site.

It's one of the biggest nuclear plants of its kind in the world: six reactors being built on the edge of the South China Sea.

Read full article Going nuclear: UK's deal with China

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Li Tianyi: China court jails army singers' son for rape

  • 26 September 2013
  • From the section China

Just 16 years old when he led this gang rape, Li Tianyi has come to symbolise the outrageous excesses of the children of China's elites.

Convicting him, the court said security camera footage showed Li dragging his victim into a hotel lift and hitting her in the face.

Read full article Li Tianyi: China court jails army singers' son for rape

Admiration lingers for Bo Xilai in China's Chongqing

  • 20 September 2013
  • From the section China
China's south-west metropolis of Chongqing in China
Image caption Chongqing, where Bo Xilai used to be leader, is one of China's great cities

In a great, sweeping, snaking curve, the Yangtze river flows wide and fast through the city of Chongqing. Murky and polluted, full of dangerous undercurrents, its waters mix with the Jialing river. The point at which the two rivers meet is where Chongqing's skyscrapers rise, on a finger of land surrounded by water, like an inland Manhattan.

Chongqing is one of China's great cities, a river port filled with giant factories, the hub for a region of 30 million people. It was once a wartime capital, bombed by the Japanese. More recently riddled with mafia gangs, known for crime and corruption, the city has played a part in many of China's political dramas. It's here where you have to come to understand the rise, and now the fall, of Bo Xilai.

Read full article Admiration lingers for Bo Xilai in China's Chongqing