Grandfather Zhen Qingchun, who has  seven grandsons, aged 11 to 20: “Our situation is very common. The parents go away to work, the older generation takes care of them. You have to make money, and you usually can’t take your children with you.”  Photograph: Clifford Coonan

Migrant working patterns leave more than 60 million rural children without parents

A paramilitary police officer outside   the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Amnesty  has urged China  to scrap a new law  which it says is aimed at further smothering civil society. Photograph: Fred Dufour/Getty Images

Police get sweeping powers to monitor overseas not-for-profit organisations

Chinese president Xi Jinping at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, in Beijing. Photograph: Kenzaburo Fukuhara/AFP/Getty Images

Chinese president urges ally North Korea to rein in nuclear ambitions

State-owned Chongqing Iron and Steel Co was the worst performing of China’s big steel mills last year. Photograph: China Photos/Getty Images

Some 1.8 million workers in state-owned steel and coal sectors will lose jobs in China

Chinese dissident Harry Wu speaking to reporters  during a human rights news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. File photo from 2000: AFP/Getty Images

Veteran activist, who was jailed for 19 years, campaigned against ‘laogai’ labour camps

Huge crowds attend the press days of the Beijing auto show, particularly at the premium exhibits like Audi (above). The attendances will only increase as the public starts to attend.

SUVs are the hottest offering on the Chinese car market where premium brands are magnets for the new middle class

Last year, Chongqing’s gross domestic product rose by 10.7 per cent, much faster than the 25-year low of 6.9 per cent recorded nationally across China. Photograph: Stephane De Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images

This vast metropolis, as big as Austria, is finally laying the spectre of Bo Xilai to rest

Greenpeace activists protesting at a power plant in Beijing.  Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund and Save the Children are among the few foreign non-profits permitted to operate in China. Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Controversial Bill will give Chinese police more power to restrict overseas charities

Twins peak: under the one-child policy of population control, now relaxed, there was widespread use of fertility treatment to encourage multiple births as the policy applied to one birth. Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Small village of Banshang has produced 16 sets of twins in the past half century

 North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un during the inspection of an underwater test-fire of a strategic submarine ballistic missile. Afterwards, he urged scientists to step up the North’s nuclear programme so it could launch attacks on the US and South Korea, whenever it wanted. Photograph:  AFP/KCNA/AFP/Getty Images

Kim Jong-un claims country now capable of ‘hitting heads of S Korean puppet forces’

 Taiwan’s outgoing president Ma Ying-jeou speaks to attendees during the “South China Sea issues and peace initiative” seminar in Taipei, Taiwan, earlier this month.  China has maritime claims over almost all of the South China Sea, but nearly all of its neighbours also have claims. Photograph:  Ritchie  Tongo/EPA

Some 20 maritime atomic facilities could be up and running by decade’s end, report says

President Xi Jinping is enormously popular in China because of his high-profile anti-corruption campaign and the perception of him as a powerful leader. Photograph: Jason Lee/Reuters

Xi Jinping underlines strength of leadership by taking on new role in world’s largest army

A woman walks by China’s anti-espionage ‘Dangerous Love’ poster campaign. Photograph: Ng Han Guan/AP

Anti-espionage campaign depicts civil servant ‘Little Li’ being wooed by handsome spy

Changzhou Foreign Languages School in Jiangsu province: a total of 493 students at the school have developed blood abnormalities and diseases such as dermatitis, eczema and bronchitis. Some have even been diagnosed with leukaemia and lymphoma.

Diseases including cancer widespread at Jiangsu school at site of former chemical plants

China banned EU beef imports over mad cow disease, or BSE, 16 years ago, but last year it was announced that the ban was being lifted for Irish beef.

Agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan says Chinese vets are auditing Ireland and five other countries

Marie, Louis and Layla Carroll at the opening of the Film Ireland festival in Hong Kong.

John Carney’s Sing Street strikes a chord as part of Hong Kong and Macau Irish Festival

China’s finance minister Lou Jiwei called Donald Trump an ‘irrational type’ in an interview criticising the Republican presidential frontrunner’s calls for a trade war with China. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Lou Jiwei says rhetoric in a presidential campaign should not be taken too seriously

A Central Committee meeting to mark the 104th birthday of North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung: the missile was launched in his honour. Photograph: Korean Central News Agency/ Reuters

North Korea tried to launch Musudan ballistic missile to mark birthday of Kim Il-sung

Scale-models of terracotta warriors are pictured on sale at the exhibition Power in Death - The Terracotta Army of the First Emperor of China at the Museum of Ethnology in Hamburg. Photograph: Reuters

Lively trade in stolen cultural artefacts driving a boom in graverobbing

Labourers work on the scaffolding of a construction site at an industrial zone in Beijing, China, April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

GDP expanded 6.7% in first three months of the year to 15.9 trillion yuan (€2.18 trillion)

Golf was outlawed in China in 2015, as part of  a crack down on corrupton. Photograph: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Outlawed in 2015, China now says there is ‘no right or wrong’ about the playing of golf

     Kevin Spacey, who plays fictional president Francis Underwood in “House of Cards”:  “They tell me House of Cards is a huge success in China, that the government like it a lot and that for the man in the street Underwood is seen as a man who fights corruption,” he told reporters at the launch of a new series in Paris.  Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Communist leadership keen on exploits of shifty US president played by Kevin Spacey

Hu Mingliang (left)  and his partner Sun Wenlin leave a courthouse after the Changsha Furong District people’s court ruled against the couple in Changsha, Hunan province, China. Photograph: EPA

Dozens turn out in Hunan to support couple in what is first case of its kind in China

Professor Stephen Hawking onstage during the New Space Exploration Initiative “Breakthrough Starshot” Announcement at One World Observatory in New York City. Photograph: Getty

Physicist treated like a rock star on China’s Twitter-style social network

China’s president Xi Jinping has initiated a moral crusade that has seen TV items involving LGBT content taken off the air. Photograph: Jason Lee/Reuters

Man surnamed Liu was born a woman and is suing for compensation and apology

Crew members of Japanese submarine Oyashio (left) work on the deck while Japanese destroyers  dock at a port of the former US naval base in Subic bay, north of Manila, in the   Philippines.  China has an ongoing row with Tokyo over the ownership of islands in the region. Photograph: Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images

Beijing says G7 should focus on economy, not on tensions in East and South China Seas

 A woman carries clothes in buckets after washing them in a canal next to the Zhang He River near Handan, Hebei Province in 2013.  Photograph: New York Times

Contaminants include heavy metals and toxic organic pollutions

Joshua Wong, who at 19 years of age is not eligible to vote in Hong Kong’s limited elections for another two years, was the public face of the Occupy Central movement. Photograph: Isaac Lawrence/AFP/Getty Images

Move by Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow expected to ramp up campaign for democracy

An internet cafe in Beijing. Data shows that nearly 29 per cent of China’s 650 million internet users used a Virtual Private Network to get online during the last three months of 2015. Photograph: Sim Chi Yin/The New York Times

More publications banned after Panama Papers link leadership to secret offshore firms

The files link nine of the country’s most prominent families, including a relative of president Xi Jinping,  to secret offshore companies, mostly based in the British Virgin Islands. Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Offshore account revelations go unpublished in media, online discussion banned

The families of some of China’s  communist party leaders including President Xi Jinping (above) have used offshore tax havens to conceal their fortunes, the Panama Papers have revelaed. Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

State media still largely ignoring the investigations into families of senior party leaders

China condemns papers as western conspiracy and censors reports of offshore deals

China has condemned the Panama Papers investigation as a Western conspiracy and its censors have restricted access to coverage of the leaked documents, which show offshore dealings by the families of president Xi Jinping (above)  and other Communist Party leaders. Photograph: Filip Singer/EPA

Censors in China restrict access to coverage of the leaked cache of files

Executive producer of Ten Years Andrew Choi (C) after winning the Best Film award at the Hong Kong Film Awards  on April 3rd. Photograph:  Reuters

Dystopian film set in 2025, and critical of Beijing rule, angers some in mainland China

A Baifu pet cemetery worker  decorates a new pet tomb ahead of the Qingming festival on the outskirts of Beijing. Millions honoured their ancestors on Sunday as part of tomb sweeping day. Photograph:   Jason Lee/Reuters

Offerings to the dead on first day of Qingming holiday include effigies of iPhones

People perform Tai Chi on the Bund in front of the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai, China, March 25, 2016. REUTERS/Aly Song

Former Treasury Holdings alumni Richard Barrett and Cormac Doddy are crowdfunding a Shanghai-based online start-up that taps int(...)

Life in the fast lane: “Some of the ‘fuerdai’ have a crush on the life of luxury ... they drive Bentley, Maserati, Porsche and so on”

The children of Chinese government officials and business tycoons are flaunting their parents’ huge wealth, getting into trouble a(...)

The Communist Party is obsessed with clamping down on ‘online rumour mongering’, as it sees it as the primary channel for anti-government dissent.

The caution adds to growing fears China is planning even tougher online restrictions

Chinese manufacturing activity expanded in March for the first time in nine months, official data showed on April 1, while a private survey indicated the smallest decline for more than a year in positive signals for the world’s second-largest economy. (Photograph:  ASTR / China OUTSTR/AFP/Getty Images)

China purchasing managers’ index reaches highest level since August

China’s president Xi Jinping has overseen a moral crusade in his country. Photograph: Filip Singer/EPA

Director Wang Chao plays down theme after ‘Seek McCartney’ gets censor’s approval

Standard & Poor’s, the ratings agency, has cut its outlook on China’s government credit to ‘negative’ from ‘stable’ as it believes rebalancing of the world’s second largest economy would take place more slowly than expected.

S&P believes rebalancing the economy will take longer than expected

Myanmar’s new foreign minister Aung San Suu Kyi and generals attending a presidency ceremony in Naypyitaw. Photograph: Ye Aung Thu/EPA

Nobel Peace Prize winner has vowed to rule ‘from above’

A job fair  at Shandong University in  China. Slower economic growth in China, worsening producer price deflation and a generally chillier global environment has prompted the Manila-based Asian Development Bank to cut its growth forecasts for developing economies in Asia.

Asian Development Bank says India slowing but still a bright spot as China growth stalls

Chen Man and his lawyer will seek compensation of 9,660,000 yuan (€1.328 million) from the Hainan Higher People’s Court.

The painter was arrested in 1992 after his landlord was found dead in a burned down house

People crossing the street in Beijing. China’s urban population is forecast to reach nearly 940 million by 2030, compared with 670 million in 2010.  Photograph: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images

Over 60 million migrant workers left offspring at home in urbanisation wave

Police escort a man accused of attacking and murdering a young girl with a cleaver on a street in Taipei, Taiwan. Photograph:  Aden Hsu/AFP Photo

Suspect was attacked and beaten by an angry crowd as police led him away

Graduates of Tsinghua University. Photograph: China Photos/Getty Images

Tsinghua University mistook Oliver Rothschild for a member of the banking dynasty

Chinese People’s Liberation Army: China has ordered its military to end all paid services within the next three years as it seeks to focus on modernising its armed forces and eliminating corruption. Photograph:  How Hwee Young/EPA

End sought to paid work from military hospitals and hotels in anti-corruption drive

Sean O’Sullivan: is a key figure in a revolution in the manufacturing start-up scene, with capital, investors and entrepreneurs flowing into a city of nearly 15 million people

This boomtown in southern China is fulfilling the state’s goal of transforming China into an innovative centre

 Chinese president Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Friday. Last month, the president visited the three main state propaganda organs and urged them to stick closely to party lines in their reporting. Photograph:  Lintao Zhang/Pool/Getty Images

Post on state-backed website accused president of building a cult of personality

A demonstrator holds  up a missing person notice for Lee Bo, one of five Hong Kong booksellers from the same Mighty Current publishing house to go missing. Photograph: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Lee Bo insists he was not abducted after his wife reported him missing in recent months

Attendees look at the Maserati Levante on the first day of the 86th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland.  Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Italian car-maker launches flagship store on Tmall with 100 Maserati SUV Levante vehicles

German president Joachim Gauck has said people can never be happy under a “dictatorship” during his first trip to China. Photograph: Wolfgang Kumm/EPA

Former East German rights activist says people can never be happy in a dictatorship

In China you can leave your villa in Provence, meet friends at Manhattan Plaza shopping mall, and walk past buildings called Venice or Milan, hardly reflective of Chinese national culture, according to critics. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

In China you can meet friends at ‘Manhattan Plaza’ and walk past ‘Venice’ and ‘Milan’

Vaccine scandal: Food and drug safety is an key issue in China and public confidence in domestic products has been badly undermined. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Sale of improperly stored or expired vaccines sparks widespread anger and fear

A rocket is launched during a demonstration of North Korea’s new rocket launching system in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Photograph: Reuters/KCNA

KCNA hails ‘perfect accuracy’ of system day after North Korea fires missiles into sea

Aung San Suu Kyi will be the only woman in the cabinet of the new Myanmar government, led by the National League for Democracy. Photograph: Nyein Chan Naing/EPA/File photo

Nobel laureate barred from presidency, but will take on four ministerial roles

Student protester Joshua Wong (centre), who became the poster boy of the Occupy Central movement, with other members of pro-democracy campaign group Scholarism at a press conference in Hong Kong. Photograph:  Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Teenage activist plans a new party and will contest seats in polls in September

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg braves Beijing’s smog as he runs past Tiananmen Gate. Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009 but Mr Zuckerberg has been lobbying hard to get the social networking site into the potentially lucrative market.  Photograph: Facebook/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook founder making progress with Chinese propaganda chief, state media reports

Richard Branson: Virgin chief tweeted:  “Really sorry to hear about an alleged incident on flight VS250. We do not tolerate abuse and @virginatlantic are investigating.”  Photograph: EPA

Passenger says flight attendants did nothing to help her

A promotional ad for Trump toilets, made by bathroom fixture company in Shenzhen, southern China. “It is a common foreign name. Donald Trump is only one of many Trumps throughout the world,” said Zhong Jianwei, general manager of Shenzhen Trump Industrial.

Bathroom firm, which has no links to Donald Trump, claims one billion users

A man watches a TV screen showing a file footage of the missile launch conducted by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea. Photograph: AP

Launch to heighten tension in stand-off over country’s weapons programme

President Xi Jinping at the closing ceremony of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference  in Beijing: the open article published online called for his resignation. Photograph: Jason Lee/Reuters

Jia Jia disappeared after publication of open letter calling for President Xi Jinping to quit

The ramparts of the Great Wall of China are illuminated  in green at Badaling near the capital Beijing.

Students from St Colmcille’s school perform Irish dances to mark the event

Otto Warmbier is taken to North Korea’s top court in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo. Photograph: Reuters

Otto Warmbier sentenced to hard labour over ‘severe and pre-planned’ crime

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang gesturing during a press conference after the closing session of the National People’s Congress in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Photograph: Getty Images

Premier claims country wants harmonious co-existence with its neighbours

Donald Trump speaking during a town hall event at the Tampa Convention Centre in Tampa, Florida, on Monday. “His job was basically to act as a clown to attract more voters’ attention to the GOP,” said China’s Global Times newspaper.  Photograph: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

‘Rich and narcissistic’ Trump shows institutional failures in US, says ‘Global Times’

Htin Kyaw, newly elected president of Myanmar and member of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, leaves after a parliament session in Naypyidaw on Tuesday.  Photograph: AFP

Htin Kyaw is first head of state who does not hail from a military background since 1960s

Lu Hao, the governor of Heilongjiang, gestures as he speaks at a Heilongjiang delegation group discussion at the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing. Thousands of Chinese coal miners marched through the streets of a mining town in northeastern China over the weekend protesting against unpaid wages, as China grapples with rising unemployment due to overcapacity in heavy industries. Photograph: Reuters

Protests come as government tries to scale back unprofitable heavy industries

Cao Jianming: ‘The SPP will firmly crack down on hostile attempts to infiltrate the country, subvert the government and cause destruction, as well as terrorist attacks, and secessionist and extremist activities.’ Photograph: Reuters

Anti-corruption campaign to remain a focus for the country’s judiciary

Burmese days: Freda Grealy and Rory O’Boyle of the Law Society

Irish lawyers are in the country to help develop the laws it needs to move out of poverty

China’s premier Li Keqiang shakes hands with a delegate  during a group discussion at the National People’s Congress in Beijing. The premier said China must do everything possible to promote employment in the province of  Xinjiang. Photograph: China Daily/Reuters

Western province of vital strategic importance to the country, says Chinese premier

Aung San Suu Kyi attends a meeting at the Sibin Guesthouse, where many of the NLD members of parliament live. Photograph: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images

Constitutional rules bar Suu Kyi from presidency despite landslide election win

 Graffiti of the portrait of Lee Bo, with the Chinese words saying “Who’s afraid of Lee Bo’’ on the wall at Mongkok on  in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Mr Lee in an email  said he feared his colleague Gui Minhai had been taken  “for political reasons”. Photograph: Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images

Claims indicate publishers were taken by Chinese security officials for ‘political reasons’

  A crane moves a container at a container port in Qingdao, in east China’s Shandong province. Photograph: EPA

Downbeat trade figures come on back of slowing growth in world’s second largest economy

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi gestures as he answers a question from a reporter during a press conference on the sidelines of the fourth session of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing on Tuesday. Photograph: EPA

Foreign Minister Wang Yi says China must defend its growing overseas interests

The Empress of China: the show  was taken off air last year because the historical drama featured   cleavage

New rules ban depictions of affairs, teen romance and the supernatural from television

China’s  Li Keqiang:  The premier said Hong Kong’s economic development would be ‘elevated’ by Beijing. Photograph: Jason Lee/Reuters

The economy and graft-busting were also on the agenda at the National People’s Congress

Delegates attend the opening of the fourth session of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on Saturday, March 5, 2016. Photograph: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Premier Li Keqiang sets 6.5-7% target, says economy faces difficult global circumstances

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un: his only significant ally, China, urged the North to abandon its “self-destructive course”. Photograph: Reuters

Kim Jong-un threatens ‘stern’ actions against UN sanctions

Delegates leave the Great Hall of the People after attending a session on Friday ahead of Saturday’s opening of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing. Photograph: Andy Wong

Red flags flutter in the smog as delegates gather for the country’s annual parliament

Kim Jong-un has ordered that nuclear warheads be readied for firing ‘at any moment’ in the face of sanctions on North Korea. Photograph: EPA/Rodong Sinmun

North Korean leader says country must ‘bolster nuclear force in quality and quantity’

An undated file photograph released by the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North Korean ruling Workers Party, shows a North Korean military’s missile firing drill at an unknown location in North Korea. According to media reports quoting South Korea’s defence ministry,   North Korea has fired “several”  short-range missiles into the East Sea. Photograph: Rodong Sinmun South Korea/EPA

The latest round of sanctions on Pyongyang are seen as the toughest to date

Hong Kong riot police walk along a cordoned-off street on February 9th following overnight clashes between protesters and police in the Mong Kok area. Photograph: Dale de la Rey/AFP/Getty Images

Territory is guaranteed autonomy but is dependent on China for economic well-being

Construction on Dublin’s northside docklands. Interest in Irish property is running high in Singapore  after Oxley Holdings Ltd last year acquired the North Wall Quay site in Dublin’s docklands. Photograph: Sara Freund/The Irish Times

Interest in Ireland boosted after €111 million North Wall Quay development

A worker unloads coal from a truck in Heilongjiang province, China. Coal-fired power plants are generally blamed as one of the chief reasons for China’s dire pollution problems. Photograph: Jason Lee/Reuters

Plants approved because of ecomomy’s emphasis on infrastructure investments

 Moody’s, the ratings agency, has cut its outlook on China’s government credit to ‘negative’ from ‘stable’. Photo: Bloomberg

Ratings agency cites pressure to reform and growing state debt burden

A man stands by a display cabinet of the Causeway Bay bookshop in Hong Kong. Photograph: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Image

Activists on island say arrests and staged TV confessions pose threat to autonomy

China’s internet watchdog has shut down the social media accounts of a high-profile property developer, Ren Zhiqiang. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Internet watchdog says comments critical of President Xi Jinping were ‘illegal’

China’s central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan  and Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble attend a group photo session during the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting

Debt-driven growth model out of favour, focus on reform and use of all available policy tools

The  room in Shanghai where this weekend’s G20 meeting will be held. Photograph: AP

Lack of transparency about market turmoil unsettles international investors

The  CCTV Building in  Beijing. Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Government takes aim at outlandish architecture cropping up in cities

Buildings are seen surrounded in smog in Jinan, Shandong province in China in 2015. Photograph: Reuters

China’s efforts to combat pollution show ‘impressive improvement in air quality’

The US and various Asian countries are concerned with Beijing’s military build-up in the South China Seas

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un being welcomed during a party in Pyongyang for scientists who contributed to the launch of the earth observation satellite Kwangmyong. Photograph: AFP/Korean Central News Agency via KNS

Officials in Seoul claim dictatorship may attempt to poison or kidnap citizens in South

Part of the city of Sansha on the island of Yongxing, also known as Woody Island in the disputed Paracel chain. The  chain has become the flashpoint in an increasingly aggressive territorial dispute between China and Vietnam, while Taiwan also claims the islands. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Advanced surface-to-air system placed on Woody Island, satellite images seem to show

Employees work at a sorting centre in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province

World’s second largest economy notched up a worse trade performance than expected

British foreign secretary Philip Hammond: said information indicated Lee Po had been involuntarily removed to mainland China without due process under Hong Kong law. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

UK citizen was ‘involuntarily removed’ to mainland China, says foreign secretary

China’s economic growth fell to 6.9 per cent for 2015, the slowest rate in 25 years

Banking system will suffer losses ‘four times bigger’ than 2008 global crisis

This general view shows the Tongil bridge checkpoint which leads to the Kaesong joint industrial area near the Demilitarized Zone  separating the two Koreas. Photograph:  Ed JonesED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

Kaesong is the last cooperation point between two nations

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