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China earthquake activist freed after five years

A Chinese activist who investigated whether shoddy construction caused the deaths of thousands of children when their schools collapsed in a 2008 earthquake was released Thursday after finishing a five-year jail term, his lawyer said. Writer and campaigner Tan Zuoren was on his way home to Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern province of Sichuan, his lawyer Pu Zhiqiang told AFP by phone. "He was released today. Now he's on the way home," Pu said.

Beijing's overwhelmed Forbidden City to limit visitors

BEIJING (Reuters) - Forbidden City, the former imperial palace in the heart of Beijing, will begin limiting how many tourists it admits, amid worries that its popularity is damaging the site, state media said on Wednesday. The plans include not letting annual ticket holders visit during peak seasons, promoting afternoon visits at the height of the steamy summer in July and August, and selling tickets online during national holidays, the news agency Xinhua reported.

Wukan protest leader flees China, seeks US asylum

A leader of protests in a Chinese village that grabbed worldwide attention when it rebelled against local Communist Party authorities in 2011 has fled to the United States to seek asylum, he told AFP on Wednesday. The departure of Zhuang Liehong underscores the troubles of Wukan, in the southern province of Guangdong, has faced since winning free elections after months of fierce demonstrations. Wukan residents ousted their longtime leadership after discovering land sales which they called self-serving and illegal, a common source of popular anger across the country.

Wukan protest leader flees China, seeks US aslyum

A leader of the 2011 Wukan protests in China that grabbed worldwide attention has fled to the US to seek asylum, media reports and an associate said on Wednesday. The departure of Zhuang Liehong underscores the troubles the village in the southern province of Guangdong has faced since winning free elections after months of fierce demonstrations. Wukan residents ousted their longtime leadership after discovering land sales that they called self-serving and illegal, a common source of popular anger across the country.

Health costs of China's polluted air 'up to $300 bn a year'

Premature deaths and health problems from air pollution cost China as much as $300 billion a year, an official report said Tuesday, calling for a new urbanisation model for the world's second-largest economy. "As China prepares for the next wave of urbanisation, addressing environmental and resource constraints will become increasingly more urgent because much of China's pollution is concentrated in its cities," said the joint report by the World Bank and the Development Research Center of the State Council, China's cabinet.

Taiwan president agrees to meet trade pact protesters

Taiwan's president on Tuesday offered to talk with protest leaders in a concession to student demonstrators who have occupied parliament for the past week to stop the government from ratifying a contentious trade agreement with China. The invite was apparently aimed at preventing any further escalation after more than 100 people were injured Monday when police used water cannon to disperse hundreds of protesters who had also stormed the nearby government headquarters.

Ma ready to talk with protesters opposed to Taiwan-China trade pact

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou on Tuesday invited demonstrators occupying the legislative compound to protest a trade deal with China to his office for talks in a bid to resolve the impasse over the pact. Presidential Office Spokeswoman Lee Chia-fei said Ma is willing to talk to leaders of the protesters about issues concerning the agreement on trade in services signed in June last year, if the protesters do not set any precondition.

Taiwan president agrees to meet trade pact protesters

Taiwan's president Tuesday offered to talk with protesters in a concession to student demonstrators who have occupied parliament for the past week in a bid to stop the government from ratifying a contentious trade agreement with China. The invite was apparently aimed at preventing any further escalation of the demonstration, after more than 100 people were injured Monday when police used water cannon to disperse hundreds of protesters who had also stormed the nearby government headquarters.

China jails man for seeking repeat of Tiananmen protest: Amnesty

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has jailed for 18 months a man who tried to stage a repeat of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protest, rights group Amnesty International said on Monday, in another sign of the ruling Communist Party's intolerance of dissent. Public discussion of the Tiananmen crackdown, in which rights groups say hundreds were probably killed, is still taboo in China.

Survey finds China manufacturing activity falls to 8-month low in March

HONG KONG - China's manufacturing fell to an eight-month low in March in another sign of slowing growth in the world's No. 2 economy. Released Monday, the preliminary version of HSBC's purchasing managers' index fell to 48.1 from February's 48.5. The closely watched index of activity in China's immense manufacturing industry uses a 100-point scale on which readings above 50 indicate expansion. Factory output shrank at the fastest pace in 18 months while new orders and work backlogs increased at faster rates.
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