John Ruwitch

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.

China soon won't be the world's most populous country.

The government released data Tuesday from a once-a-decade census conducted late last year that shows population growth has slowed to a crawl. Meanwhile, the proportion of senior citizens in China has expanded, the cohort of working-age people is contracting, and births are down.

The data casts a fresh spotlight on one of the ruling Communist Party's biggest long-term socio-economic challenges as it turns 100 this year: How to keep the economy humming and incomes rising while the population shrinks and ages.

Taiwan's semiconductor-makers are racing to end a chip shortage that has forced carmakers to hit the brakes on production.

But the Taiwanese government's economic chief says it is still unclear when the crisis will be over.

Taiwan's Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua told NPR that Taiwanese microchip producers, such as world-leading Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., have boosted production this year and are filling more auto-related orders.

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