A man in eastern China has been acquitted of murder and freed after spending 27 years in prison. Zhang Yuhuan maintained he was tortured by police and forced to confess to the murder of two young boys in 1993. He was China’s longest-serving wrongfully convicted inmate, after having served 9,778 days in the prison in Jiangxi province. He walked free after a high court found there was not enough evidence to justify his conviction.
China took over the premises of the U.S. consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu on Monday. The seizure capped a dramatic escalation in tensions between the world’s two biggest economies that began when employees at China’s Houston consulate were seen burning documents in a courtyard last Tuesday, hours before Beijing announced that it had been ordered to leave the facility.
China has ordered the closure of the US consulate in the south-western city of Chengdu, in a tit-for-tat escalation between the two countries. China said the move was a “necessary response” to the US, which ordered China to close its consulate in Houston earlier this week. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US decision was taken because China was “stealing” intellectual property.
China launched its first fully homegrown Mars mission on Thursday as it attempts to join the United States in successfully landing a spacecraft on the red planet. China’s tandem spacecraft — with both an orbiter and a rover — is scheduled to reach Mars in about seven months. If everything goes as planned, it will be China’s first successful mission to Mars, following a failed attempt back in 2011.
In a dramatic escalation of tensions, the State Department has ordered the closure of China’s Houston consulate — a move the Chinese on Wednesday called an “outrageous and unjustified” provocation. On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced an indictment charging two Chinese nationals— both in China — with hacking governments, dissidents, human rights activists and private companies, including those engaged in COVID-19 vaccine research.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has accused China of “gross and egregious” human rights abuses against its Uighur population and said sanctions against those responsible cannot be ruled out. Reports of forced sterilisation and wider persecution of the Muslim group were “reminiscent of something not seen for a long time”, he told the BBC. China’s UK ambassador said talk of concentration camps was “fake”.
China’s economy has recovered from a record contraction to post 3.2% growth in the second quarter compared to the same time last year. The first quarter had seen the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) slump by 6.8% – the worst performance for decades. The growth surprised analysts, who had expected the figure to be around 2.5%, following a quarter during which lockdown measures ended and stimulus was boosted to help the economy recover.
The United States on Monday rejected China’s claims to offshore resources in most of the South China Sea, drawing criticism from China which said the U.S. position raised tension in the region, highlighting an increasingly testy relationship. The United States has long opposed China’s expansive territorial claims on the South China Sea, sending warships regularly through the strategic waterway to demonstrate freedom of navigation there.
The Chinese government has announced sanctions against US officials, including the Republican senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, in response to US sanctions over Beijing’s treatment of ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang province. The announcement is largely symbolic, given that the US officials have little financial or legal exposure in China. On Friday, the US imposed sanctions against a Chinese government entity and four senior Chinese officials.
The U.S. sanctioned a top member of China’s Communist Party on Thursday, along with three other senior officials and a Chinese entity involved in systematic human rights abuses of Muslim minorities and ethnic Kazakhs in China’s western province of Xinjiang. The action is likely to ratchet up already high tensions between the U.S. and China.