Anthony Kuhn

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This morning, China is vowing to fight the United States to the finish if the Trump administration continues to escalate what is becoming increasingly like a trade war.

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Today marks the start of the Year of the Dog. The Lunar New Year is celebrated in China, Vietnam and many other countries and by ethnic Asian communities all around the world. NPR's Anthony Kuhn has this story from the Chinese capital, Beijing.

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China is claiming a larger role for itself in world affairs. China's president, Xi Jinping, talked last month of making his country a powerful nation that could lead the world.

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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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Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo has died of liver cancer. He was 61. He died on medical parole while serving an 11-year prison sentence for subversion. NPR's Anthony Kuhn has more from Beijing.

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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.

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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With fires crackling in the peat soils, smoke billowing up and hot ash raining down just a stone's throw from his house, farmer Arif Subandi chokes up as he surveys the scene.

"Now our land is burned, our environment neglected," he says, sobbing. "Where will my children and grandchildren go?"

The 48-year-old father of five, who lives just outside the capital of Indonesia's West Kalimantan Province on Borneo, says he doesn't have enough to support his family. He's worried about local companies trying to take the land from him.

In recent winters, severe smog has blanketed northern China with a grim regularity, triggering emergency measures in scores of cities. What has been changing in recent years is how some ordinary Chinese citizens, particularly those in the growing middle class — who have the means to take action — have chosen to respond to the pollution.

The Indonesian island of Java has long been synonymous with coffee. But it's only in the past decade or so that Indonesians have begun to wake up and smell the coffee — their own, that is.

Big changes are brewing in the country's coffee industry, as demand from a rising middle class fuels entrepreneurship and connoisseurship.

The trend is clear at places like the Anomali Coffee shop in South Jakarta. It roasts its coffee just inside the entrance on the ground floor.

By returning a U.S. Navy underwater drone Tuesday that it had fished from the South China Sea last week, China appears to have laid the controversial naval encounter to rest. But the incident seems calculated to send a message to the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump about China's strategic plans in the region.

One of North Vietnam's most recognizable wartime voices fell silent last Friday, when former radio broadcaster Trinh Thi Ngo, dubbed "Hanoi Hannah" by American service members, died.

Her former employer, the government-run Voice of Vietnam, reported the news on its website Sunday. The radio service says Trinh was 87 when she died, though there are conflicting reports about the year of her birth.

For the past couple of decades, night owls with the munchies have flocked to a certain street in Beijing that is packed with all-night restaurants. The sidewalks are jammed with cars and have a perpetual patina of rancid-smelling cooking oil.

One of the trendier restaurants on the block is called A Very Long Time Ago. The decor is upscale Paleolithic, with silhouettes of cavemen traipsing across the walls. The clientele is not so fossilized. They're mostly 20-somethings who roast skewers of food over hot coals.

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Autograph-seeking fans and journalists thronged China's newly minted Olympic sensation, 20-year-old swimmer Fu Yuanhui, at the Beijing airport on Tuesday.

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