Gay woman challenges Hong Kong in landmark trial

  • 14 May 2015
The International Finance Centre towers over the southern Chinese city's Central district, illuminated during dusk in Hong Kong
Hong Kong: 'Asia's World City'?

Hong Kong bills itself as Asia's World City, a cutting-edge metropolis that effortlessly fuses the traditional and the modern.

But on the subject of rights for sexual minorities, gay rights activists say the city is firmly stuck in the past.

On Thursday, the High Court will hear a landmark judicial review challenge by QT, a British lesbian woman in her 40s, who is accusing the Immigration Department of discrimination.

She moved to Hong Kong in 2011 when her partner, named as SS in court documents, accepted a plum technology job with a global company.

The couple, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had just entered into a civil partnership in the UK after more than seven years together, giving them rights similar to married couples.

Read full article Gay woman challenges Hong Kong in landmark trial

The trouble with China's anti-corruption campaign

  • 5 May 2015
A man walks past portraits of the former Chinese leader Mao Zedong
Social media users point out that laws have been in place for decades - but not enforced

A ruling in Shanghai banning the husbands, wives and children of top officials from running businesses is meant, of course, to allay the deep public concern about official abuse of power.

But, as has so often been the case throughout China's much-vaunted anti-corruption campaign, the tougher the rhetoric grows the wider the ridicule becomes.

Read full article The trouble with China's anti-corruption campaign

China says no to amateur weathermen

  • 1 May 2015
A woman protects herself from the rain with an umbrella in Beijing on 26 September 2014.
State media say the new measures are needed to prevent public panic in the face of a major weather event

You may not be able to control the weather - but you can control the forecasts.

China's amateur meteorologists, or indeed anyone with an opinion on whether it might rain, now need to watch out.

Read full article China says no to amateur weathermen

When China woke up to Wham!

  • 9 April 2015
Young children sporting 'Mao' jackets and caps gape at George Michael (left) and Andrew Ridgeley, of the pop group Wham who are visiting the Great Wall as they promote the first-ever gig by a Western pop band in communist China, on 7 April 1985. (DO NOT REUSE IMAGE)
Wham!'s management spent 18 months trying to convince Chinese officials to let the duo play

Everyone who went to see Wham! perform in China in 1985 seems to remember the same details: the dazzling lights, the overwhelming wave of noise when the music began, and the outfits worn by the duo, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley.

In 1985, China was just opening up to the outside world following the tumultuous Cultural Revolution.

Read full article When China woke up to Wham!

China's Ili Pika: The 'magic bunny' goes viral

  • 26 March 2015

Everyone on social media is talking about China's "magic bunny", the cutest endangered animal that you have never heard of.

Sixty-year-old retired conservationist Li Weidong has been on a mission for over 30 years to document and protect the highly-endangered Ili Pika - a mysterious rabbit-like mammal only found in China. With less than 1,000 left they are now rarer than pandas.

Read full article China's Ili Pika: The 'magic bunny' goes viral

China breaks the economic bad news gently

  • 5 March 2015
Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the opening of the 3rd Session of the 12th National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People on 5 March 2015 in Beijing, China
Premier Li Keqiang (R), seen here with President Xi Jinping (L), made the announcement at the National People's Congress

What do you do if you're the leader of the world's second largest economy - and you're set to announce your country's lowest economic growth target in 24 years?

Li Keqiang, the premier of China, faced that question as he delivered a lengthy speech marking the start of China's annual parliamentary session. At the heart of the speech: Beijing's forecast of 7% GDP growth in the coming year.

Read full article China breaks the economic bad news gently

Budget boost for China's military comes with shake-up

  • 4 March 2015
Soldiers from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) march ahead of the opening session of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, 3 March 2015
The military will get a 10% budget increase

China's National People's Congress will open in Beijing on Thursday. Three thousand or so delegates from around the country will converge on Tiananmen Square, to take part in the annual political gathering.

Around one in 10 of those climbing the steps of the Great Hall of the People tomorrow will be in military uniform, representing the People's Liberation Army (PLA) - the world's largest.

Read full article Budget boost for China's military comes with shake-up

Under the Dome: The smog film taking China by storm

  • 2 March 2015
Child near a power station in Beijing, China (Nov 2014)
For many children growing up in China, pollution has become a normal part of life

Only in China would a documentary on air pollution garner more than 100 million views in less than 48 hours.

Renowned investigative journalist Chai Jing has been widely praised for using her own money - more than 1 million RMB ($159,000: £103,422) - to fund the film, called Under the Dome. She first started the documentary when her infant daughter developed a benign tumour in the womb, which Ms Chai blames on air pollution.

Read full article Under the Dome: The smog film taking China by storm

Is Weibo on the way out?

  • 24 February 2015
File image of a man using the Sina Weibo microblogging site in Shanghai on 29 May 2012
A study found that almost 60% of accounts on Weibo had never posted a message

China's internet watchdogs have threatened to enforce real-name registration before. But this time, they're adamant all Chinese citizens must provide their real names and identification numbers before using social media sites starting on 1 March.

Nicknames can be used on the sites, but only after users hand over their personal details to the government.

Read full article Is Weibo on the way out?

Graffiti, demolition and angst in Shanghai

  • 29 January 2015

Demolition in China is often a sensitive, political subject, touching on the relative powerlessness of local residents in the face of omnipotent local officials.

And while Shanghai has retained more of its old architecture than many Chinese cities, the relentless pace of economic development has still swept large parts of it away.

Read full article Graffiti, demolition and angst in Shanghai