State-sponsored matchmaking app launched in China

Service in Jiangxi uses data on single residents to build platform amid drive to boost marriage rate

For single people, dating fatigue is a universal phenomenon. Hours of swiping left can lead to despair at the potential matches in your area. One city in Jiangxi, a province in eastern China, reckons that it has come up with a solution for the lovelorn or love-weary: a state-sponsored matchmaking service.

Guixi, a city of about 640,000 people, has launched an app that uses data on single residents to build a matchmaking platform. The app is known as “Palm Guixi” and includes a platform for organising blind dates, according to China Youth Daily, a state-run newspaper.

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Chinese football stars and officials held in Xi’s corruption crackdown

Stadiums are reopening but detentions of major football figures overshadow the sport, as scandal engulfs basketball

Sergio Agüero may be one of the greatest strikers of his generation, but he won an even rarer accolade in 2015, when he became the first – and last – Premier League footballer to take a selfie with Xi Jinping, China’s football-loving leader.

The photo, taken at Manchester City’s stadium – with then prime minister David Cameron – comes from an era when Xi was fostering warm relations with the UK and pushing China to become a world football superpower by 2050, both ambitions that seem distant possibilities today.

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‘Path of error and danger’: China angry and confused over Aukus deal

Deal is designed to counter perceived threat from Beijing but analysts in China say it could push region closer to conflict

When the UK, the US and Australia announced the details of their multibillion-dollar deal to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines on Monday, the reaction in China was both outrage and confusion.

The allies were “walking further and further down the path of error and danger”, said Wang Wenbin, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, on Tuesday. The Chinese mission to the UN accused the three countries of fuelling an arms race.

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From the US to Africa: how China sees the world as Xi’s third term begins

Geopolitical relations China’s president will have to navigate as country reopens after three years of isolation

As Xi Jinping starts his third term as China’s president, high on his agenda will be strengthening the country’s position on the world stage. After three years of isolation as Beijing tried to impose a harsh zero-Covid policy, China is reopening to the outside world.

But much has changed since China closed its borders in 2020. Its economy has been hobbled, its ally Russia has started a war in Europe and relations with the US are at an all-time low. Here are the geopolitical relationships that Xi will have to navigate as he attempts to assert Beijing’s vision.

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After years of isolation, Xi’s China looks to dominate world stage

President expected to visit Iran and to meet Vladimir Putin soon as he aims to build ties abroad

In Xi Jinping’s closing speech at China’s annual parliamentary meeting on Monday, his message was clear: China is back. Speaking to nearly 3,000 delegates in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Xi, newly anointed as president for a precedent-busting third term, said: “After a century of struggle, our national humiliation has been erased … the Chinese nation’s great revival is on an irreversible path.”

The speech comes as Xi is trying to position himself as a global statesman, leading a China that is ready to dominate the world stage. After three years of isolation caused by the zero-Covid policy, Chinese diplomats and Xi himself are jetting across borders to participate in international summits once again.

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Free college and IVF help: China hunts for ways to raise its birthrate

High costs and career impacts remain barriers to having children for many women despite Beijing’s efforts to lift its record-low birthrate

At China’s annual parliamentary meeting this week, proposals to boost China’s falling birthrate have come thick and fast. On Wednesday, the All China Women’s Federation, a state-backed organisation, called for a national publicity campaign to “advocate a positive concept of marriage and childbearing”, through film and television. Other delegates to China’s parliament have called for tax breaks for companies that employ more mothers, opening up maternity insurance to college students, free college education for families who have a third child born after 2024 and allowing unmarried women to access fertility services.

Last year China’s birthrate fell to 6.77 per 1,000 people, the lowest on record. In 2022 the population shrank by 850,000, the first decline since 1961, a year of famine.

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Xi Jinping to tighten Communist party’s grip with overhaul of China’s government at key meeting

The NPC, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, will gather this weekend to approve far-reaching changes, and Xi’s unprecedented third term as president

Xi Jinping is preparing a profound overhaul of China’s government and party institutions at this year’s National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s rubber-stamp parliament, which begins its annual session on Sunday.

On Tuesday, the Chinese Communist party (CCP) trailed changes of “far-reaching significance” that are expected to include a reorganisation of the bodies tasked with managing the financial and technology sectors, as well as state security. The changes will all have one goal in mind: to strengthen the party’s control.

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Lukashenko’s planned Xi meeting shows gulf between China and the US

White House reiterates concerns Beijing considering sending lethal weapons to Russia while claiming to be peacemaker

Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus and close ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, is due to visit Beijing on Tuesday for a meeting with Xi Jinping, in a high-profile trip symbolising the widening gulf between the US and China over the war in Ukraine.

US officials spent the weekend reiterating their concerns that Beijing is considering sending lethal weapons to Russia, amid China’s attempts to position itself as a peacemaker and deny that it would provide arms to Moscow.

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Year of war in Ukraine tests China’s ‘no limits’ relationship with Russia

There are signs Beijing wants a quick political resolution to conflict as its patience with Russia wears thin

Few analysts expected China’s peace plan for Ukraine, which officials trailed all week, to have any concrete measures for solving the crisis. Their suspicions were correct. The position paper published by China’s foreign ministry on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion called for the “sovereignty of all countries” to be respected, without detailing what this meant for Ukraine. In each of the 12 points, the plan reiterated Chinese talking points about the conflict without offering a solution.

The Chinese peace plan is the culmination of a flurry of diplomatic meetings that kicked off at the Munich security conference on 17 February. There Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, presented a bullish front to western officials, denying claims made by Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, that China was on the verge of sending weapons to Russia. Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said such a move would be a “red line” for the bloc. Wang insisted China wanted peace.

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At least five killed in open-pit coalmine collapse in north China

Mining company operating in autonomous region of Inner Mongolia has history of safety violations

At least five people have died and 48 are missing after an open-pit coalmine collapsed in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region in north China.

One of the walls of the mine caved in at about 1pm local time on Wednesday, burying workers in tonnes of rocks and sand. Another collapse occurred five hours later, forcing the rescue operation to halt. The search resumed on Thursday morning, with fireengines, SUVs, bulldozers and rescue dogs being mobilised from across the province.

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Pakistan’s fresh £580m loan from China intensifies debt burden fears

Loan is on top of £25bn that cash-strapped Islamabad already owes Beijing and Chinese commercial banks

China has agreed to loan Pakistan $700m (£580m) to help it weather its worst economic crisis in a generation, in a development that will intensify concern among western countries about cash-strapped Islamabad’s debt burden to Beijing.

The loan comes on top of $30bn (£25bn) that Pakistan already owes China and Chinese commercial banks. Securing the financing will help to unlock bailout cash from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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China claims ‘decisive victory’ over Covid amid doubt over figures

More than 200m people treated for virus and death rate now ‘lowest in the world’, says government

The Chinese government has declared a “decisive victory” in the battle against Covid-19, claiming it had created “a miracle in the history of human civilisation” in successfully steering China through the global pandemic.

The comments were made at a meeting presided over by President Xi Jinping on Thursday. The government said more than 200 million people had been treated for Covid and that China’s death rate from coronavirus was “the lowest level in the world”.

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