KASU

Anthony Kuhn

A software developer in southern China surnamed Xie was at home on a recent day, when he responded to a knock on the door.

He opened it to find three plainclothes policemen. Xie asks that we just use his last name, because he fears being arrested.

At the time, he was selling VPN apps on Apple's China app store. VPNs — virtual private networks — help people access Internet content that's blocked in China.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

"Liu Xia is free."

A Chinese official made this assertion to allay concerns that the widow of prominent Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who died July 13, remains under house arrest — as she has been for most of the time since her husband was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

Prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo, the only Chinese citizen to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize while still residing in China, has died at age 61. Liu died Thursday while on medical parole in northeastern China's Shenyang city, where he was being treated for liver cancer. He was serving an 11-year prison sentence for trying to overthrow the government.

With China's most famous living dissident, Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, on the verge of death, his supporters continue to call for him to be allowed to leave the country — to either get medical treatment or at least die a free man.

In decades past, China sometimes released high-profile dissidents, who went overseas. But the days when China was willing to cut a deal with the U.S. or other countries and send a dissident into exile are long gone.

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In China, a futuristic new kind of urban transport that its promoters claimed would beat traffic jams appears to have gone off the rails. That became clear last week when police arrested the people behind the project on suspicion of fraud.

Dubbed the Transit Elevated Bus, the vehicle looks a bit like a catamaran on rails or a bus that straddles two lanes of traffic.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In China, a futuristic new kind of urban transport that was intended to beat traffic jams appears now to have gone off the rails. NPR's Anthony Kuhn has the story from Beijing.

To the rest of China, the remote, landlocked region known as Guizhou province has been a wild and rugged backwater, for all but the last 500 years of the country's history. Now, it's at the leading edge of China's technological ambitions.

Aboriginal tribes inhabited this part of Southwest China until members of the majority Han ethnic group began settling there around the 10th century B.C. It didn't become a province of a unified China until five centuries after that.

People in China have been paying cash for things for thousands of years, long before other civilizations. Now, increasingly, they're paying with their cellphones.

So while the Trump administration hailed a bilateral deal in May, that would allow U.S. credit card firms including Visa and Mastercard access to the China market, it may not be the coup those firms hoped. Chinese consumers are essentially leapfrogging plastic, and going straight from cash to mobile payments.

One of China's most controversial celebrations, the annual dog meat festival in southwest China's Yulin City, is underway.

The event inflames passions among the celebrants and their critics to such a degree that the local government seems to be in a bind, unable to placate either side. Activists say that this year, the government issued a ban on the sale of dog meat, only to reverse following an outcry from locals.

"It's really confusing," says Zhang Xiaohai, secretary general of the AITA Foundation for Animal Protection in Beijing.

A Chinese labor activist has been arrested and two others have disappeared after investigating alleged labor abuses at a factory that makes shoes for several major brands — including Ivanka Trump's.

Hua Haifeng disappeared sometime Sunday while en route to the Huajian International shoe factory in southern China.

On Tuesday, police in the province called Hua's wife, Deng Guimian.

Over the weekend, China pledged tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure financing and development aid, and elicited support from scores of countries to promote economic integration and free global trade through the creation of what Beijing is calling a "new Silk Road."

U.S. diplomats staged a rare intervention to rescue the family of a human rights lawyer held in China. The attorney was released last week, after having been swept up in a two-year-old crackdown that has put most of the country's rights lawyers and legal activists out of business.

Human rights groups have been watching to see whether the Trump administration will take a more or less muscular approach to human rights in China than their predecessors, and this case highlights some of the issues at stake.

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