Melinda Liu

China Gets a High-Profile First Lady

Hu Jintao's wife is, by many accounts, stern but low-key, the latest in a long line of near-invisible first ladies of China. Since the death of Mao's wife, Jiang Qing, a Shanghai actress who became notorious for her brutal part in the Cultural Revolution, the wives of Chinese leaders have been conspicuously absent from the public stage. But that's all about to change.

China Can't Keep Up With Its Cars

Beijing's announcement that it will shutter more than 2,000 polluting steel mills and other industrial energy hogs by Sept. 30 might look like one more sign that China is moving up fast in the global race to go green. Lately, important figures like President Obama and newspaper columnist Thomas Friedman have been warning that the People's Republic is far outpacing America in ecofriendly technology.

The Battle for China's Wall Street

New turf battles have erupted in the rivalry between Hong Kong and Shanghai over which metropolis will be the financial heart of China. The conventional wisdom has long been that Hong Kong would prevail. But Shanghai is keen to grab a bigger piece of the action, and it's on a fast learning curve.

China's Mixed Signals

It would be understandable if foreign business leaders are confused by the signals Beijing is sending these days. On the one hand, Premier Wen Jiabao cordially greeted international executives last week, telling them, "It's important to reinforce your confidence in China." On the other, Wen's comments came the same day Google shut its China search engine, saying it would no longer bow to government pressure to censor results.

After Obama, Will China Embrace Multiculturalism? The Legacy of Lou Jing and the President's Visit

In all the recent controversy over racism in China—focused on 20-year-old Shanghai pop singer Lou Jing, whose mother is Chinese and father is African-American—people forgot to mention how the Chinese bureaucracy itself encourages citizens to classify themselves by race.

China's Gambling Problem

The Chinese take their side of paradise very seriously, and by paradise we mean the island of Hainan, a.k.a. "the Hawaii of China." The beaches are kept pristinely white (good news, especially for those brave enough to try the clothing-optional one).