"China’s top court has urged officials from the ruling Communist party to shun western-style judicial independence and reject 'erroneous western thought', state media has said, as controls over the media, dissent and the internet are tightened. • The comments by China’s supreme court constitute Beijing’s latest attack on western ideology and are another sign of President Xi Jinping’s conservative political agenda. • The party has signalled it will not embark on political reform despite hopes that Xi, the son of a former liberal-minded vice-premier, might relax tight central controls."
"Chinese President Xi Jinping will make his first state visit to the United States in September, China said on Wednesday, after both countries' leaders laid out possible areas of friction in a telephone call. • The world's two biggest economies have been trying to ease tension over everything from trade and human rights to exchanges of accusations of hacking and Internet theft. • U.S. President Barack Obama called for "swift work" by China to narrow differences on cyber issues, the White House said, as the two sides started planning for Xi's visit to Washington."
The longest rail link in the world and the first direct link between China and Spain is up and running after a train from Yiwu in coastal China completed its maiden journey of 8,111 miles to Madrid.
En route it passed through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France before arriving at the Abroñigal freight terminal in Madrid.
The railway has been dubbed the “21st-century Silk Road” by Li Qiang, the governor of Zhejiang province, where Yiwu is located. Its route is longer than the Trans-Siberian railway and the Orient Express.
The first train was met by the mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella, and Spain’s minister of public works, Ana Pastor. It consisted of 30 containers carrying 1,400 tonnes of cargo – mostly toys, stationery and other items for sale over Christmas across Europe.
According to China’s ambassador to Spain, Zhu Banzao, it will return laden with wine, jamón and olive oil in time for the Chinese new year in February.
Yiwu is the world’s largest wholesale hub for small consumer goods and plays host to a vast 4 sq km (1.5 sq mile) market where tens of thousands of traders work daily. The journey was a test run to assess the viability of adding Spain to a route that already links China with Germany five times a week. Those trains link Chongqing, the huge industrial city in south-west China, with Duisburg, and Beijing with Hamburg.
"'Iron friends' China and Pakistan today inked 20 agreements amounting to Chinese investment reportedly worth about USD 46 billion, as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held wide-ranging talks with the leadership here."
"Recent transgressions by Chinese troops in the northern border areas of India and the protest note by the Chinese foreign office on road building in Arunachal Pradesh have again highlighted the fact that the Sino-Indian boundary issue remains to be settled, despite negotiations for nearly half a century. • There is no other country in the world that has longer contiguous borders than China - a total of 22,000 km with 14 states (13 according to India, as New Delhi does not recognize China's border with Pakistani Kashmir that it says was illegally ceded to Beijing). All the countries that have a common border with China, except India and Bhutan, have arrived at a settlement with Beijing. Therefore, the question that arises is: what are the reasons why there is no settlement with India?"
"A year ago the property would have gone for $1.3 million, but Arcadia is booming. Residents have become used to postcards offering immediate, all-cash deals for their property and watching as 8,000-square-foot homes go up next door to their modest split levels. For buyers from mainland China, Arcadia offers excellent schools, large lots with lenient building codes, and a place to park their money beyond the reach of the Chinese government. • The city, population 57,600, projects that about 150 older homes—53 percent more than normal—will be torn down this year and replaced with mansions. The deals happen fast and are rarely listed publicly. Often, the first indication that a megahouse is coming next door is when the lawn turns brown. That means the neighbor has stopped watering and green construction netting is about to go up."
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China is building some "fairly amazing submarines" and now has more diesel- and nuclear-powered vessels than the United States, a top U.S. Navy admiral told U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday, although he said their quality was inferior. • Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, told the House Armed Services Committee's seapower subcommittee that China was also expanding the geographic areas of operation for its submarines, and their length of deployment."
When the history of 2014 is written, it will take note of a large fact that has received little attention: 2014 was the last year in which the United States could claim to be the world’s largest economic power. China enters 2015 in the top position, where it will likely remain for a very long time, if not forever. In doing so, it returns to the position it held through most of human history.
Comparing the gross domestic product of different economies is very difficult. Technical committees come up with estimates, based on the best judgments possible, of what are called “purchasing-power parities,” which enable the comparison of incomes in various countries. These shouldn’t be taken as precise numbers, but they do provide a good basis for assessing the relative size of different economies. Early in 2014, the body that conducts these international assessments—the World Bank’s International Comparison Program—came out with new numbers. (The complexity of the task is such that there have been only three reports in 20 years.) The latest assessment, released last spring, was more contentious and, in some ways, more momentous than those in previous years. It was more contentious precisely because it was more momentous: the new numbers showed that China would become the world’s largest economy far sooner than anyone had expected—it was on track to do so before the end of 2014.
The source of contention would surprise many Americans, and it says a lot about the differences between China and the U.S.—and about the dangers of projecting onto the Chinese some of our own attitudes. Americans want very much to be No. 1—we enjoy having that status. In contrast, China is not so eager. According to some reports, the Chinese participants even threatened to walk out of the technical discussions. For one thing, China did not want to stick its head above the parapet—being No. 1 comes with a cost. It means paying more to support international bodies such as the United Nations. It could bring pressure to take an enlightened leadership role on issues such as climate change. It might very well prompt ordinary Chinese to wonder if more of the country’s wealth should be spent on them. (The news about China’s change in status was in fact blacked out at home.) There was one more concern, and it was a big one: China understands full well America’s psychological preoccupation with being No. 1—and was deeply worried about what our reaction would be when we no longer were.
"SHANGHAI (Reuters): Australia, Indonesia and South Korea skipped the launch of a China-backed Asian infrastructure bank on Friday as the United States said it had concerns about the new rival to Western-dominated multilateral lenders. • China’s proposed $50 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is seen as a challenge to the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, both multilateral lenders that count Washington and its allies as their biggest financial backers. • China, which is keen to extend its influence in the region, has limited voting power over these existing banks despite being the world’s second-largest economy."
"This week China launched an unmanned probe to the moon, a rehearsal for a future robotic sample-return mission. It's another positive step China is taking towards its own human lunar landing, writes Bob McDonald."
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