John Ruwitch

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The Chinese government has been tightening its control over culture and the economy in that country. In recent days, its sites have apparently turned towards an A-list movie star. NPR China affairs correspondent John Ruwitch reports.

BEIJING — America's two-decade presence in Afghanistan was always a mixed bag for neighboring China.

"On the one hand, [China] didn't love the fact that there [were] American military bases literally on their border in Afghanistan," says Raffaello Pantucci, a fellow with the Royal United Services Institute, a security think tank in the United Kingdom. "On the other hand, you know, they thought, well, at least someone is dealing with the issues there. And we don't have to."

Updated July 28, 2021 at 4:04 PM ET

BEIJING — As a spokesperson, he delivered excoriating one-liners and helped pioneer a brash, more sharply confident communication style from the Chinese foreign ministry's pulpit.

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China has flown 28 warplanes into Taiwan-controlled airspace, the biggest sortie of its kind since the Taiwanese government began publishing information about the frequent incursions last year.

The flights are widely seen as part of an effort by Beijing to dial up pressure on Taiwan, a self-governed democracy of about 24 million people off the Chinese coast that the Chinese government considers a part of China.

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A group of wild elephants has wandered into the suburbs of the Chinese city of Kunming after trekking more than 300 miles from their home, perplexing experts and stymying officials who have tried to keep the hulking animals out of populated areas.

The 15 Asian elephants — some mature and others still young — left a nature reserve near China's border with Myanmar and Laos more than a year ago and have been northbound ever since, according to Chinese media.

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The Senate is poised to pass a major bill that would pour hundreds of billions of dollars into science and technology in a bid to out-compete China, and it's doing so with something rare these days: strong bipartisan support.

The Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 is part of a wave of recent China-related proposals in Congress.

Republican Sen. Todd Young of Indiana is one of the act's key sponsors, as is Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who has been leading the charge to get it passed.

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