Melinda Liu

A Worried World

The Democrats' victory in last week's U.S. midterm elections thrilled many Europeans eager for George W. Bush to get his comeuppance. But not every nation is celebrating.

Pragmatism or Principle?

The last time U.S. Democrats dominated Congress, a dozen years ago, China was still recovering from the traumatic 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.

Bigger Isn't Always Better

Kim Jong Il's big bang may not have been so big after all. North Korea's nuclear detonation sent enormous diplomatic shock waves through international capitals, to be sure, and governments are still scrambling to respond.

China's Dilemma

North Korea's apparently successful nuclear test has sent shock waves through international capitals and promises to alter the security landscape of North Asia in alarming ways.

Nuke Jitters

North Asia's diplomatic landscape could be about to look wildly different. It's about something more than North Korea's imminent threat to detonate its first known nuclear test device—perhaps as soon as Sunday, Oct. 8, the anniversary of Kim Jong Il's ascension to leadership of the ruling Workers Party in 1997.

Silent Games

For a while many foreign correspondents thought authorities were "killing the chicken to scare the monkey." That's a Chinese proverb meaning one target is attacked in order to intimidate another.

Tibet Rides the Rails

Lhasa is not quite hot enough to have its own stock exchange, not yet. But on the trading floor of the Tibet Securities Company, a large hall where share prices from the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges roll across giant screens, the action has been heavy since Beijing's much touted railway to Tibet neared completion.

Bound to the Tracks

The Beijing-Lhasa express is midway through its 48-hour, 2,500-mile maiden run, and Ivor Warburton is riding high. Outside the train, the snowcapped Kunlun Mountains gleam above the Gobi Desert in the remote Chinese province of Qinghai.

Flying High

Even on her journey of a lifetime, Beijing official Yang Hong felt terrible. As the railway ministry's boss of dining services, she had to ensure that some 800 passengers on the inaugural Beijing-Lhasa train were adequately fed and watered.

Rock Star CEOs

Even as China's economy zooms forward at warp speed, Chinese CEOs till tend to be low key and secretive, like the apparatchiks of old. Perhaps remembering the Maoist days when wealth and fame attracted nothing but political headaches (and worse), they show caution, not charisma.

Fashion Forward

SHAHZAD KALIM When Kalim went to school in the Indian state of Bihar, many in his small town could barely afford proper clothing, let alone worry about being fashionable.

Road Rage, Chinese Style

Finally, I decided to take the test to get a Chinese driver's license. Beijing streets are so crowded, chaotic and polluted that driving is pretty stressful these days, at least compared to the way it used to be.

War of Wills

This week's long-awaited summit between Hu Jintao and George W. Bush in Washington has sent diplomatic sherpas in both countries into overdrive. One last-minute development was a visit to Beijing last week by Washington's assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Thomas A.

The Most Important Phrase You'll Never Hear

The hoopla over Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington next week has begun. Beijing's pre-game warm-up for Sino-U.S. presidential summits almost always includes buying a few Boeing aircraft (in this case, some 80 737's), releasing political prisoners (a Tibetan nun, so far), and dispatching Chinese officials and executives to snarf up American goods.

China's Panda Politics

They spend most of their lives asleep. They bite. They're absurdly inept at sex. But in the realm of diplomacy, giant pandas have few rivals. For more than a thousand years, China's rulers have used the coveted beasts to win allies abroad.

Freezing Point

These are dark days for the Chinese media. In recent months the number of mainland journalists behind bars has grown to 39, more than any other country. Editors have been sacked or demoted.

Can the Sage Save China?

China's official buzzword these days is "harmony." Whether the audience is Chinese or foreign, rich or poor, Beijing's leaders are spreading the message: can't we all just get along?

Virtual Heroes

Earlier this week I was wandering through a flea market in Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan province in China's Wild West. Among stalls selling (mostly fake) antique porcelain and Tibetan artifacts redolent with the aroma of yak butter, I spotted a small crimson-red cigarette box bearing the image of Lei Feng, a chubby-faced soldier wearing one of those goofy, floppy People's Liberation Army (PLA) hats.Lei was a big name in the 1970s when Maoist-style egalitarianism was the height of...

Energy and Empire

With violence and chaos in Iraq growing ever more intense, many Americans have asked me this week about China and the Iraq conflict. Although I'm based in Beijing, I was in Baghdad for the fall of Saddam Hussein, witnessed Washington's "shock and awe" bombing from the receiving end and have reported from inside Iraq yearly since Saddam's fall.

A 'Single' Church

Despite a serious illness two years ago, Aloysius Jin seems in fine form. He switches continuously between French and English, and cracks a joke about Prince Charles's succession to the British throne ("He's impatient, he's been waiting so many years").

Bystander No More

Iran's nuclear crisis is testing China's new proactive diplomacy. On Monday the conservative Iranian newspaper Jomhuri-ye Eslami's Web site issued a sharp challenge to Beijing's leaders over their actions in the nuke showdown.Reminding readers of former Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping's ties to the deposed Shah of Iran, the paper wrote that just hours after "defenseless and innocent people were shot down in a hail of machine-gun fire" during anti-shah unrest in Tehran in 1978, Deng paid a visit....

China 2.0

If you're a China watcher, you don't just listen to what top Beijing leaders say, but also to how many times they say it. This month President Hu Jintao has embraced a new mantra, stressing "sustainable development," "innovation" and "a resource-saving, environment-friendly society." He uttered those buzzwords in his New Year's address, then at a high-profile science and technology conference, and then again last week during an inspection tour of Fujian province.

All Aboard

China is a nation on the move--especially now, at the beginning of the much-awaited Spring Festival vacation. Also known as Chinese New Year, and based on the lunar calendar, this is the longest and most popular holiday of the year.

High-Tech Hunger

Don't be fooled by Wang Xiaoyun's demure demeanor. The 39-year-old mathematician is an instrument of China's campaign to become a tech power. She is also a legend among Western cryptographers. "Please don't write too much about my research; it's so difficult for journalists to get the technical details right," Wang pleads in rapid-fire English and Shandong dialect.

Panda Politics

Once again the rival regimes in Beijing and Taipei are engaged in a war of words, but this time the topic is pandas. Specifically a cute, cuddly, just-can't-resist pair of giant panda cubs which Chinese authorities have offered to Taiwan as a "goodwill gesture." Problem is, Taiwanese authorities are trying hard to resist what some call the mainland's "panda ploy."Taiwan Premier Frank Hsieh said the island was unlikely to accept the creatures because to do so would "compromise our sovereignty."...