China

One of China's most controversial celebrations, the annual dog meat festival in southwest China's Yulin City, is underway.

The event inflames passions among the celebrants and their critics to such a degree that the local government seems to be in a bind, unable to placate either side. Activists say that this year, the government issued a ban on the sale of dog meat, only to reverse following an outcry from locals.

"It's really confusing," says Zhang Xiaohai, secretary general of the AITA Foundation for Animal Protection in Beijing.

Two Chinese fighter jets conducted an "unprofessional" intercept of a U.S. aircraft in international airspace over the East China Sea on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Air Force.

The American aircraft was conducting a routine mission in accordance with international law when the two Chinese SU-30 jets made the move, Pacific Air Forces spokeswoman Lt. Col. Lori Hodge told NPR.

China, which has long had a goal of breaking into the Western-dominated aircraft market, on Friday tested its first large passenger jetliner.

The C919, made by state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd., or Comac, took off from Pudong International Airport in Shanghai.

The new plane is expected to compete with the Airbus A320 and Boeing's 737. The lucrative narrow-body market accounts for more than 50 percent of the aircraft in service worldwide.

To consider the dangers in America's future, let's go back more than 2,000 years to ancient Greece. Sparta was the established power, but Athens was rising fast. Sparta wanted to preserve its status, while Athens felt it should be dominant.

The festivities at this month's third annual Qingyuan marathon, in southern China's Guangdong province, begin at 7 a.m.

On one side of the starting line, there's a traditional Chinese music troupe in robes and long, flowing beards; on the other, there's a stage full of dancing girls wearing skimpy marathon attire, gyrating their hips in unison to a rap song.

Stuck in the middle are more than 23,000 runners, itching to start. The music stops, a gun is fired, and for the next half-hour, runners jostle with one another to cross the starting line

Just days before President Trump is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the administration has made a move that has some U.S.-China experts scratching their heads. The Commerce Department has quietly put a notice into the Federal Register stating that the U.S. will review a hot-button issue between the two superpowers.

On the afternoon of April 14, 2016, Yu Huan, 22, and his mother were working at their brake disc company in eastern China's Shandong Province, when 11 men arrived and blocked the company's entrance, set up a grill and started drinking alcohol and barbecuing outside. It was the second day in a row that they'd been harassing the family.

As China prepares to impose a domestic ban on the ivory trade, a new report has found that the price of raw ivory there is plummeting.

It's good news for Africa's elephants, which have been poached by the thousands for their tusks. Many of those tusks are then smuggled to China, which has been one of the world's largest markets for the banned material.

The streets of Dalianhe, in China's frigid northeast province of Heilongjiang, are lined with black snow. The town is home to one of China's largest open-pit coal mines. Workers drive through its front gate into a massive gorge with cliffs the color of ink — a canyon of coal. Thousands of feet below, it's silent but for the drip of melting snow.

The U.S. is producing less air pollution, but smog levels are still rising in the western U.S. because of pollutants released in Asian countries that then drift over the Pacific Ocean. Researchers say their findings show the importance of a global approach to preserving air quality.

"Scientists found Asian air pollution contributed as much as 65 percent of an increase in Western ozone in recent years," NPR's Rob Schmitz reports from Shanghai. "China and India, where many consumer products are manufactured, are the worst offenders."

Sitting inside a glass-encased cockpit, two men fiddle with joysticks controlling giant claws outside. They look like they're playing at a vending machine at a mall, where you try to grasp a stuffed animal. But these are engineers. The claws they're manipulating are as big as houses, and they're sifting through hundreds of tons of garbage thrown away by the world's largest consumer class.

In a surprising move, China's commerce ministry has announced that the country would be suspending its coal imports from North Korea. China released a statement Saturday saying that the freeze in imports will begin Sunday and will be in place through the end of the year.

Like millions of Americans, I watched the new White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, as he tried to convince reporters and viewers last weekend that President Trump's inauguration was the most watched ever — "both in person and around the globe, period!"

Spicer made his case even though photos of the National Mall show that attendance was much smaller than at Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009, which – incidentally – I covered.

Little white chips fly off in every direction with each blow of master ivory carver Li Chunke's chisel.

Gradually, the folds of a robe, tassels and hands of an ancient Chinese woman begin to emerge from a rough piece of ivory in front of him in his Beijing workshop.

Li says nothing looks as smooth, nothing can be carved as intricately or expressively as ivory. Wood and jade are too brittle.

"Whether I'm carving animal or human figures, I try to express their feelings," he says. "That's what Chinese consider most important."

After President-elect Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state made strong statements about China's actions in the South China Sea, Chinese officials have responded with muted, measured statements — while state-run media have warned of the potential for conflict and retaliation.

Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon Mobil CEO nominated to lead the U.S. State Department, had a confirmation hearing Wednesday. He told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that China's actions in the South China Sea were "extremely worrisome" and compared them to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

China sent its only aircraft carrier into the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday morning, an unusual and provocative move that comes as tensions are high between the mainland and the self-governing island.

NPR's Rob Schmitz reports from Beijing that China says the carrier was returning from weapons drills in the South China Sea, and that its passage through the strait complies with international law. Here's more from Rob:

China's police are under fire this week as citizens blast Beijing authorities' decision not to prosecute police following the death of a 28-year-old environmentalist, Lei Yang.

Many observers see this as a landmark case that flies in the face of pledges by China's leaders to prevent miscarriages of justice and curb the arbitrary exercise of state power.

Chinese officials have seized 3.1 tonnes (more than 3.4 tons) of illegally trafficked pangolin scales from a port in Shanghai, according to state media.

It's the largest such seizure China has ever made, Xinhua News Agency reports.

Pangolins are the world's most widely trafficked mammals — their meat is a delicacy and their scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

All eight species of pangolin are facing extinction.

On Sunday, President-elect Donald Trump told Fox News that he wouldn't feel "bound by a 'One China' policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade."

The One China policy has guided U.S.-China discourse since 1979, when Washington established diplomatic relations with Beijing and downgraded its embassy in Taiwan.

One of China's wealthiest men has been on a buying spree in Hollywood, snapping up cinemas and movie production companies. Now Wang Jianlin, the chairman of the Beijing-based Dalian Wanda Group has acquired another piece of Americana: Dick Clark Productions.

More than 24 hours after an explosion struck a coal mine in southwestern China, 20 miners are still missing, state media report.

The Xinhua news agency says 35 miners were working at the privately-owned Jinshangou mine when the explosion happened Monday morning; two escaped alive, and 13 have been confirmed dead. (Early reports had suggested 15 deaths.)

Hundreds of rescuers are "working around the clock" to dig through debris and search for survivors, Xinhua reports.

A gas explosion at a coal mine in China has killed 15 miners, and another 18 miners are missing and presumably trapped underground, Chinese state media report.

According to Xinhua, more than 200 rescue workers were at the rural mine near the city of Chongqing, looking for any survivors.

The explosion hit Monday morning, NPR's Rob Schmitz says, when 35 miners were working. Two of them escaped.

Joshua Wong, 19, who helped lead the large-scale pro-democracy protests that took over parts of Hong Kong in 2014, was refused entry to Thailand Wednesday. Wong was detained and put on a return flight after being blacklisted at China's request, Thai newspaper The Nation reports.

When Wong landed in Bangkok, he found a large group of immigration officials and police waiting for him; he was sent back to Hong Kong about 12 hours after he landed.

Nathan Law may still be taking college coursework, but he's already scored a good job. When I ask how much he'll make now that the 23-year-old has become Hong Kong's youngest legislator in city history, he quietly does the calculation in his head.

"It's around 12,000 U.S. dollars a month," he finally says, "but I'm going to donate much of that to the social movement."

In the past two days, Typhoon Megi has pounded Taiwan and the coast of southeast China and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate amid rising floodwaters.

At least four people died in Taiwan, as the storm blasted across the island en route to China, NPR's Anthony Kuhn tells our Newscast unit. In mainland China, at least one person was killed when several buildings collapsed in Quanzhou, in Fujian province.

Chinese officials are under fire after a local government tried to repair a section of the Great Wall by apparently just paving it over. Now, a centuries-old stretch of the wall looks more like a gray sidewalk than a global treasure.

"The five-mile stretch of wall in northeast Liaoning province is known as a particularly scenic part of the 'wild wall,' " NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Beijing. "Its towers and parapets are partially crumbled by seven centuries of wind and rain."

China's first-ever space lab will be returning to Earth in late 2017, and "most parts" of the spacecraft will burn up on re-entry, the country's space program announced last week.

The news came after months of speculation that China had lost control of the Tiangong-1, or "Heavenly Palace-1," the space lab that was launched in 2011 with great fanfare.

Canada and China have agreed to hold negotiations on a possible mutual extradition treaty, according to statements posted to the websites of both governments.

The story is as tragic as it is horrifying.

An impoverished young mother from China's Gansu province killed her four young children and herself. Her husband later killed himself as well. The murder-suicide case has gone viral on Chinese social media, as commenters wonder if the family's poverty contributed to the turn of events.

On August 26, neighbors say Yang Gailan fed her four children, all under the age of seven, and took them with her to tend to the sheep. They never came back.

The relationship between the U.S. and China these days is fraught with political tensions. But both countries are committed to sending more of their young people to study language and culture in each other's countries — and a component of that is sending more U.S. minority students to China.

That's both to provide more students of color with the opportunity to study overseas, and to create a student body abroad that is more representative of U.S. diversity.

According to China's education ministry, 21,975 American students studied in China in 2015.

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