China

For years, the Chinese government has been widely suspected of hiring thousands of paid commenters using fabricated accounts to argue in favor of the government on social media sites.

This presumed army of trolls is dubbed the "50 Cent Party," because of the rumored rate of pay per post – 50 cents in Chinese Yuan, or about $0.08.

Chinese women Rui Cai and Cleo Wu gave birth to twins last month, following a successful in vitro fertilization. It wasn't simple.

Cai took two eggs from Wu, added sperm from a U.S. sperm bank, had them put in her womb at a clinic in Portland, Ore., then returned to China to give birth.

The lesbian couple is one of the first in China known to have used this form of surrogacy.

The birth is seen as a sort of milestone in China, which has become a more tolerant place for gay couples over the past nearly four decades.

High above the Pacific Ocean in a plane headed for Hong Kong, most of the passengers are fast asleep.

But not Jim Puckett. His eyes are fixed on the glowing screen of his laptop. Little orange markers dot a satellite image. He squints at the pixelated terrain trying to make out telltale signs.

He’s searching for America’s electronic waste.

“People have the right to know where their stuff goes,” he says.

International trade disputes used to be relatively simple.

One country would build up an industry to create jobs, and then dump excess products in another country at below-cost prices. Competitors facing unrealistically cheap imports would file "anti-dumping" complaints to seek government-backed protections.

On Friday, most of the world's governments are set to sign the most sweeping climate agreement in history. Their signatures will codify promises they made in Paris last December to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

The two largest sources of those gases are the U.S. and China. Whether they keep their promises will in large part determine whether the Paris deal succeeds. And it is by no means clear that they'll be able to keep their promises.

This week, NPR and some member stations will be talking about trade on the campaign trail and in communities around the country.

Economists for decades have agreed that more open international trade is good for the U.S. economy. But recent research finds that while that's still true, when it comes to China, the downside for American workers has been much more painful than the experts predicted.

And that's playing out on the presidential campaign trail in a big way.

'Disastrous' Trade Agreements?

After centuries of neglect, the world's largest fortification, the Great Wall of China, has a band of modern-day defenders who are drawing up plans to protect and maintain the vast structure.

They're not a minute too soon: Roughly a third of the wall's 12,000 miles has crumbled to dust, and saving what's left of it may be the world's greatest challenge in cultural preservation.

Qiao Guohua is on the front line of this battle. He lives in the village of Jielingkou, not far from where the eastern end of the Great Wall runs into the Yellow Sea.

In a high school theater in Arcadia, Calif., Amber Zhang and the rest of the teenage cast of a production of Molière's comedic play The Miser gather in a tight circle.

"Everyone say, 'Hey, hey, hey!' " bellows Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, an instructor at Arroyo Pacific Academy. "Helloooo!"

Zhang, cast as a spunky ingénue, throws her body — and pipes — into the exercise.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife step out of a Boeing 747 at Everett's Paine Field. China made a splash with its announcement in September that China would buy Boeing planes for its growing air passenger market.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

China's largest airline says it will buy 80 Boeing 737 jets made in Renton.

But many won't be ready for passengers when they take off.

This Movie Made China Fall In Love With Seattle

Dec 17, 2015
Screenshot from YouTube

Realtors say there's been a big jump in the number of Chinese nationals buying high-end homes in the Puget Sound area.

Bellevue real estate agent Becco Zou said her buyers are attracted by the good schools and the relatively short flight home. But there’s something else luring her Chinese clients to Seattle: a movie that has been nicknamed the Chinese “Sleepless in Seattle.”

So far, the international climate meeting in Paris has primarily been about words, as diplomats wrestle with the precise language of a treaty. But some surprising climate science was unveiled this week, too — a new measurement of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere that suggests the world's production of the globe-warming gas has taken a small dip.

For the first time since it instituted a warning system in 2013, Beijing has issued a "red alert" over dangerous levels of air pollution.

The state news agency Xinhua reported that the city's air is thick with smog and the skyline is obscured by the haze.

The agency reports:

"This is the first time the capital has issued the red alert, which will last from 7:00 a.m. Tuesday to 12:00 p.m. Thursday.

Built it and they didn't come.

That could be the motto for China's infamous "ghost cities" — vast housing complexes that were frantically erected over the past decade but remain largely uninhabited.

For years, the real estate market in China has been booming. Chinese laws allow city governments to cheaply grab nearby rural areas for development, and that's fueled the frenzy to build, build, build. Over the past 20 years, the country's urban areas have quintupled.

Maj. Gen. Edward Dorman III says training for Chinese soldiers in Washington state can "build trust between the two countries. I think we reduce the potential for misunderstanding."
Courtesy of U.S. Army

Chinese soldiers have landed in Washington – but don’t be alarmed.

Eighty members of the People’s Liberation Army are in the state this week learning about disaster response. They’re working alongside troops from Joint Base Lewis McChord as well as personnel from the National Guard and state and federal agencies.

After more than 35 years, China has rescinded its law banning many families from having more than one child; all of them will now be allowed to have two. The shift comes as China faces low fertility rates and an aging trend in its population.

"China will allow all couples to have two children, abandoning its decades-long one-child policy, according to a communique issued Thursday by the Communist Party of China," the state-run Xinhua news agency reports.

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