President Hu Jintao of China made headlines in the early days of the new year saying China and the West were engaged in an escalating culture war, and calling on Chinese people to strengthen cultural production to defend themselves against the assault.
A Tibetan ‘Living Buddha’ who set himself on fire in protest against Chinese rule died this week, sparking a vigil of thousands of Tibetans and creating fears that self-immolations are spreading.
While much of the world's attention has been focused on U.S.- Iranian tensions over the Strait of Hormuz, a key think tank is urging Washington to devote more focus and resources on another key hub for international commerce several thousand kilometres to the east.
For much of last year world politicians and market watchers dreamed of China coming to the rescue of a stumbling global economy while Beijing mandarins sat on the fence fretting about high inflation and social instability inside their country. As China prepares to greet the Year of the Dragon later this month, many predict more gloom and doom, and some are expecting that the battle to stave off recession will be fought closer to home.
Among its Central Asian neighbours, China these days is more often feared than loved. This attitude is perhaps most apparent in Kyrgyzstan, where despite an overwhelming dependence on Chinese imports, Chinese-owned malls and mining pits have been the subject of attacks in recent years; nationalist editorials in the local press play on fears of the Middle Kingdom.