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Chinese premier holds a revealing press conference

PRESS conferences generate news because of what a prominent person has to say, particularly in response to journalists' questions. In China, the questions themselves are revealing, since they are screened and only those that suit the interviewee get asked...
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Lack of archival law ensnares Hong Kong's government

FOR almost a year, Hong Kong's MTR Corporation has been mired in scandal. Reports of shoddy work in the US$12.4 billion Shatin-to-Central Link project led to the setting up of a Commission of Inquiry, followed by the government's disclosure that it couldn't guarantee safety because...
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Has China replaced the kowtow with a red carpet?

DURING the heyday of the Chinese empire, representatives of vassal states had to go through elaborate rituals including the infamous kowtow procedure known as "three kneelings and nine prostrations" before being allowed into the imperial presence. The idea that there were other nations...
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A balancing act: Japan's relations with China, Taiwan

ON the second day of the new year, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech in which he called for the fulfilment of the "historic task" of reunifying Taiwan and the mainland, by force if necessary. Days later, Taiwan's president appealed to the international community for...
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In HK, China insists, the chief executive is more equal

EVER since Carrie Lam became chief executive of Hong Kong on July 1, 2017, she has had virtually absolute support from the Chinese government, including President Xi Jinping himself. This isn't surprising, since she was Beijing's hand-picked candidate. In the intervening 20 or so months,...
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Desire for limelight may lead Trump to settle for less

AS CHINA celebrates the arrival of the Year of the Pig, trade negotiators on both sides of the Pacific pause briefly before resuming talks, this time in Beijing, in an attempt to reach what US President Donald Trump calls "the biggest deal ever made" to end the trade war he launched last...
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US-China ties at 40: Competition likely in all spheres

IN January 1979, the then 74-year-old Deng Xiaoping, survivor of repeated political purges to become China's leader after the death of Mao Zedong, met in Beijing with American journalists to mark the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States. As the Wall Street...
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China Watchers are moving with the times

The Soviet Union's status as a superpower is no more, though Russia still has weapons capable of destroying the world many times over. That superpower mantle is now snugly wrapped around the shoulders of China, which has also inherited Winston Churchill's description of the Soviet Union...
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China's efforts to win trust remain Sisyphean

IN his New Year address, President Xi Jinping spoke proudly of China's achievements in 2018, including the launch of the Chang'e-4 lunar probe, which successfully landed on the far side of the moon, a feat that is expected to provide scientific information that might shed light on the...
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A legal quagmire for Hong Kong's leadership

TWENTY-SOME years ago, the main topic of conversation for people in Hong Kong was what lay in the future, when the British colony was handed back to China after 156 years. Two decades later, the conversation hasn't changed much, with people asking each other what they thought the future held...
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China: Using history as a mirror to navigate world affairs

FOR more than a thousand years, Chinese have used history as a mirror so as to learn lessons and not to repeat mistakes and have urged other countries to do the same thing. In that spirit, it may be appropriate to look back at China's history over the last century...
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China's language reflects its values and culture

IT is often said that the United States and the United Kingdom are two allies with a special relationship largely because they speak a common language. And yet, this idea of a "common language" cannot be carried too far because, as George Bernard Shaw observed, with a twist: "The...
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Canada-China impasse: Following the law vs power display

HENRY Kissinger, in his book On China, wrote that Chinese strategists think differently than their western counterparts because they are used to playing a different board game, weiqi, where the player patiently gains relative advantage through strategic encirclement rather than seek total victory...
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The 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up

FORTY years ago this month, the Communist Party of China, led by Deng Xiaoping, issued a clarion call for reform. Deng, who had emerged as the country's strongman two years after the death of Chairman Mao Zedong, warned the party faithful in an iconoclastic speech not to believe blindly but to...
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The US-China summit: a 90-day grace period

THE agreement reached in Buenos Aires by United States President Donald Trump and President of China Xi Jinping bought China a 90-day grace period, after which the US would tighten the screws by sharply raising tariffs until Mr Trump gets what he wants - a structurally transformed Chinese economy.
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Stormy days ahead in US-China relations

THE decision by China and the United States to have negotiators meet in Buenos Aires ahead of a Dec 1 meeting between President Xi Jinping and Donald Trump suggests that the two sides feel that a trade accord may be within reach, South China Morning Post has said.
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Abe's visit to China: Two cheers for Japan-China relations

THE visit last month by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to China to mark the 40th anniversary of the signing of a treaty of peace and friendship by the two countries has been called a "historic turning point" heralding the beginning of a "new chapter" in the relationship...
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Timing and opportunity: China's challenge to the US

FORTY years ago when China began its reform and opening up, Deng Xiaoping, then the country's paramount leader, delivered a speech calling on all party members to "dare to think". "Otherwise," Deng said, "we won't be able to rid our country of poverty and...
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Picking the right China nationals for the world stage

LAST month, the president of Interpol, Meng Hongwei, made a trip back to China - and promptly vanished. His wife hasn't heard from him since Sept 25 when he sent her via text message an emoji of a knife, an ominous sign...
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HK's outlook bleak as China calls the tune

HONG Kong was struck by the worst storm in recorded history last month, with Typhoon Mangkhut felling more than 40,000 trees and generally creating havoc. Then, last Friday, the Hong Kong government set off a storm of its own by taking the unprecedented action of rejecting the visa-renewal...
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US-China conflict: Human rights to move to the forefront

TEN years ago when I authored a short book on human rights to coincide with the Beijing Olympics, I wrote that the human-rights situation was bad, but used to be worse.
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Beijing-Vatican deal: A grim future for the church in China

THOUGH not a churchgoer, I have over the years maintained a lively interest in religion, particularly Christianity, no doubt because of a Catholic education from kindergarten through university. I stopped going to church entirely a quarter century ago after I was told by a priest during confession...
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Facing the test of history in the Taiwan Strait

RECENT Chinese actions, such as heightening Taiwan's diplomatic isolation by luring away allies such as Panama, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador, and its insistence that companies - including airlines such as United, hotel chains like Marriott and fashion retailers like Zara - declare on...
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China strengthens Africa ties with US$60b financing aid

LAST week, China played host to 53 African countries and unveiled its latest triennial aid plan for the continent: US$60 billion, the same as in 2015, but with some differences.