China Specialist Correspondent
Benjamin's Feed
May 11, 2012

China’s Hu could cast long shadow if top table trimmed

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) – A push by Chinese President Hu Jintao to shrink the size of the nation’s nine-member leadership body, as revealed by Reuters this week, could have far-reaching implications for his anointed successor and for future economic and political reform.

Outgoing leaders in China can cast a long shadow, and Hu’s desire to cut the politburo standing committee to seven in the twilight of his decade-old administration has fuelled talk that he wants his allies to influence the next one to preserve his legacy.

May 8, 2012

Exclusive: China considers delay of key party congress: sources

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s ruling Communist Party is seriously considering a delay in its upcoming five-yearly congress by a few months amid internal debate over the size and makeup of its top decision-making body, sources said, as the party struggles to finalize a once-in-a-decade leadership change.

The two most senior posts, of president and premier, are not considered in much doubt. But any delay in the congress, no matter the official reason, would likely fuel speculation of infighting over the remaining seats in the nine-member politburo standing committee which calls the shots in China.

Apr 24, 2012

Exclusive: North Korea’s nuclear test ready “soon”

BEIJING (Reuters) – North Korea has almost completed preparations for a third nuclear test, a senior source with close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing said, an act that would draw further international condemnation following a failed rocket launch.

The isolated and impoverished state sacrificed the chance of closer ties with the United States when it launched the long-range rocket on April 13 and was censured by the U.N. Security Council, which includes the North’s sole major ally, China.

Apr 24, 2012

North Korea’s nuclear test ready “soon”: source

BEIJING (Reuters) – North Korea has almost completed preparations for a third nuclear test and has the capacity to carry it out “soon,” a senior source with close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing told Reuters.

“Soon. Preparations are almost complete,” the source said when asked whether North Korea was planning to undertake a nuclear test.

Apr 20, 2012

Murdered Briton in China left meagre savings to family – friend

BEIJING (Reuters) – Expatriate British businessman Neil Heywood, whose murder has caused political upheaval in China, left his wife and children in a financially uncertain situation in China, prompting a former business associate to pay for their plane tickets to attend his London funeral, a family friend told Reuters.

The account marks the first time that details of Heywood’s financial affairs have emerged since he died in southwest China last November. Family friends also revealed more details about the final few days leading up to his death.

Apr 20, 2012

Exclusive: Murdered Briton in China left meager savings to family; friend

BEIJING (Reuters) – Expatriate British businessman Neil Heywood, whose murder has caused political upheaval in China, left his wife and children in a financially uncertain situation in China, prompting a former business associate to pay for their plane tickets to attend his London funeral, a family friend told Reuters.

The account marks the first time that details of Heywood’s financial affairs have emerged since he died in southwest China last November. Family friends also revealed more details about the final few days leading up to his death.

Apr 19, 2012

Brazen and eccentric, the cop at centre of China scandal

CHONGQING/BEIJING (Reuters) – The raucous diners in a hilltop restaurant in southwest China ignored a waiter’s request to quieten down after a complaint from a petite woman at a nearby table.

The woman made a phone call. Minutes later, a man stormed into the hotel restaurant, brandished his pistol and silenced the table of stunned drinkers who instantly recognised him.

Apr 19, 2012

Insight: Brazen and eccentric, the cop at centre of China scandal

CHONGQING/BEIJING (Reuters) – The raucous diners in a hilltop restaurant in southwest China ignored a waiter’s request to quieten down after a complaint from a petite woman at a nearby table.

The woman made a phone call. Minutes later, a man stormed into the hotel restaurant, brandished his pistol and silenced the table of stunned drinkers who instantly recognized him.

Apr 13, 2012

China gags widow of Briton in murder scandal

BEIJING (Reuters) – The Chinese widow of a British businessman thought to have been murdered in a case that has rocked China’s political establishment has been gagged by local police, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Neil Heywood, 41, was found dead in his hotel room in China’s southwestern city of Chongqing last November. The family initially did not suspect foul play. But in a stunning twist, state media announced that Gu Kailai, wife of Chongqing’s disgraced Communist Party boss Bo Xilai, and a household assistant were “highly suspected” of killing Heywood and have been detained.

Apr 11, 2012

China braces for next act in leadership drama

BEIJING (Reuters) – “We can’t keep a lid on this,” China’s disgraced leader Bo Xilai was reportedly told by his police chief when the murder scandal now engulfing Bo’s family first began to unravel.

With a once-in-a-decade leadership handover months away, the Communist Party’s elite must be thinking the same thing as they confront the first very public turmoil at the centre of power in more than 20 years.

    • About Benjamin

      "Ben is based in Beijing and covers China regulatory news. He is an ethnic Chinese born and raised in the Philippines, and spent 13 years in Beijing and 15 years in Taipei. He joined Reuters in 1991, serving as Beijing bureau chief from August 2008 to August 2010 and Taipei bureau chief from February 2000 to December 2002."
    • Follow Benjamin