Emily Feng

Polls show widespread distrust toward China is growing in the U.S. over how China initially handled its coronavirus outbreak and ongoing human rights abuses.

At the same time, Chinese attitudes toward the U.S. are souring — while popular satisfaction with the Chinese state has grown since the central government quickly brought the pandemic under control through sometimes brutal methods.

China has sentenced an influential property magnate and outspoken critic of the Communist Party and President Xi Jinping to 18 years in prison on corruption charges – a hefty sentence that is likely to further deter dissent among the nation's intellectual and business elite.

On Tuesday, a Beijing court announced that it had found Ren Zhiqiang, 69, guilty of embezzling public funds and taking bribes totaling about $2.9 million over the course of 14 years. He was sentenced in a trial closed to the public. Ren has also been fined $620,000 and his assets seized.

Early this month, parents and students across the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia streamed back to school campuses, not to attend classes, but instead to protest.

They gathered by the hundreds outside dozens of schools in rare acts of civil disobedience, protesting a new policy that sharply reduces their hours of Mongolian-language instruction. For several days, schools across Inner Mongolia stood empty as parents pulled their children out of class, the largest demonstrations in Inner Mongolia in more than three decades.

Across China, life has largely returned to normal. Domestic travel is picking back up as a coronavirus pandemic brought under control recedes from memory. Businesses and factories have reopened.

Except in Xinjiang. A sweeping, western region nearly four times the size of California, Xinjiang remains largely cut off from the rest of the country and its some 22 million residents under heavy lockdown, an effort officials say is needed to contain a cluster of more than 800 officially diagnosed cases.

Textbooks censored. Teachers investigated for improper speech. Students arrested and charged with secession for their social media posts.

Just over a month after Beijing imposed a national security law in Hong Kong, authorities are targeting in rapid succession figures at all levels of Hong Kong's civil society and education sectors, despite assurances from Beijing officials and Hong Kong's top leader that the law would only be used to target a small minority of people.

A farmer from Shandong province along China's east coast, Liu recalls how during Chinese Lunar New Year in January, he went out for a walk and came home to discover local officials preparing to demolish his home.

When he called the police on the demolishers, they arrested him instead, saying that the police would "assist the work of the local government."

"To demolish my home, about 100 security officers surrounded and subdued me, and detained me," Liu said on a recent visit to his village, Liushuanglou, near the city of Heze. He was released from detention the next day.

Updated at 9:12 p.m. ET

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai and several executives at the media company he founded have been arrested. They're accused of colluding with foreign forces, the highest profile arrests thus far under a sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing just over a month ago.

First China was hit by the novel coronavirus. Now it is dealing with the worst flooding in more than 20 years across vast swaths, from its southwestern interior to its east coast.

Zeng Hailin is one of an estimated 3.7 million people displaced or evacuated because of floods in China largely since June.

Updated at 12:20 p.m. ET

The Chinese government ordered the United States on Friday to close its consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu in retaliation for the U.S. shutting down China's consulate in Houston. Ties between the two countries have plummeted to their lowest point in more than 30 years.

Updated 12:50 p.m. ET

Beijing's top legislative body has unanimously passed a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong, a controversial move that could effectively criminalize most dissent in the city and that risks widening the rift between China and Western countries that have criticized the law.

It was a dramatic crackdown, even by China's standards: Dozens of young labor organizers and student activists were rounded up and disappeared in 2018 and 2019. Now, at least 15 of the activists have been released from detention, some taking on new identities and jobs, according to five acquaintances of the activists.

This year was supposed to be a good year for selling bamboo rats to eat. Prices had been rising steadily as had their popularity as a delicacy when grilled.

Then the coronavirus hit.

"People nowadays are always talking about poverty alleviation. But now, I'm close to being in extreme poverty," said Liu Ping, a breeder of bamboo rats — plump rodents known for their sharp, bamboo-gnawing incisors and ample flesh.

A seafood vendor among the first people infected by the novel coronavirus has a change of heart over what is important in life.

A doctor who treated some of the first patients still puzzles over why the virus behaves the way it does.

A psychologist worries about the deep, lasting emotional strains from the outbreak.

A survivor seeks justice for his mother's death, though he knows his lawsuit against the authorities will likely never go to trial.

Updated 1:15 a.m. Monday

China's capital of Beijing has discovered 79 symptomatic new cases of the coronavirus since Thursday, leading city authorities to resurrect lockdown measures and elevating fears of a second wave of infections.

Since the coronavirus pandemic battered China's economy, tens of millions of urban and factory jobs have evaporated.

Some workers and business owners have banded together to pressure companies or local governments for subsidies and payouts.

But many of the newly unemployed have instead returned to their rural villages. China's vast countryside now serves as an unemployment sponge, soaking up floating migrant workers in temporary agricultural work on small family plots.

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