China

Alibaba sees strong sales as Singles' Day beats record

The world's biggest online shopping event raked in more than $30.8bn (210bn yuan; £23bn) in sales in 16.5 hours of trading, surpassing last year's all-time-high.

A gala featuring pop star Taylor Swift launched the 24-hour shopping blitz.

It marked Alibaba's first Singles' Day since the exit of its colourful founder, Jack Ma.

He was replaced as executive chairman by Daniel Zhang earlier this year after stepping down to focus on philanthropy and education.

The firm said sales reached $1bn in a little over one minute of trading on Singles' Day.

China and Samoa sign new trade agreements

As many as seven new deals have been agreed and signed between China and Samoa, ahead of a summit on China-Pacific Islands economic cooperation.

The China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum was expected to be the announcement platform for Beijing’s US$1trn Belt and Road initiative, which intends to offer cheap loans to developing countries.

Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua is leading China’s delegation in Apia, the capital of Samoa. The meeting takes place just one month after Solomon Islands and Kiribati formed diplomatic relations with Beijing.

PIF urges China to 'take lead' in reducing carbon emissions

Dame Meg Taylor was speaking at a Pacific Island development forum hosted by China in Samoa this week.

Countries needed to be more ambitious than meeting Paris Agreement targets, she said, and China could be an "important ally" by taking the lead in "escalating its ambition level and its commitments" under the Paris Agreement.

"To just meet our Paris targets is no longer enough," she said at the third China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum.

Solomons' deal with Chinese developer sparks 'concern'

Experts say the arrangement in Central Province would give the developer and other Chinese firms a strategic inlet into Solomon Islands, which until last month was one of Taiwan's dwindling allies in the Pacific.

The government traded Taiwan for China in a move that it said would promise more development for the nation.

Solomons signs up to China's 'Belt and Road Initiative'

Manasseh Sogavare attended high-level talks in Beijing during the first ever official visit to China by a Solomons' prime minister.

His visit follows last month's controversial move by the Solomons to switch its diplomatic recognition to China, ending a long relationship with Taiwan.

While in Beijing, Mr Sogavare met China's President Xi Jinping, with the two leaders signing various agreements.

According to the ABC, one of the agreements was for co-operation under China's sprawling Belt and Road initiative.

China's Pacific investment a 'trap'

It comes as Solomon Islands continues to reassess its relationship with Taiwan, ahead of a possible diplomatic switch to China.

Sixteen Solomons MPs declared last week they wanted the country to stick with Taiwan, following the visit of a ministerial delegation to China.

The group is led by the Minister for National Planning, Rick Hou, who said a vote in parliament on the matter would not happen this year.

Speaking to reporters in Palau last week, Dr Wu said he respected that the Solomons needed time to debate the issue.

Chinese diplomat calls Pacific criticism ignorant, prejudiced

In an opinion piece in the Samoa Observer he called this view ignorant, or prejudiced.

Earlier this month, an American official claimed China was "using predatory economics" and "debt for sovereignty deals".

But Mr Chao called this ridiculous.

Claims that loans from China are a quid pro quo for recipient nations' political sovereignty is "Cold War" thinking not supported by evidence, he said.

"China's foreign aid is offered on the basis of equality, with full respect for the will of the governments and people," he wrote.

Samoa PM plays down fears over China in Pacific

 While Canberra and Washington fear China's long-term ambition is a military base in the Pacific, Malielegaoi said he was more interested in the practical aid Beijing offered.

 “The bigger geopolitical issues don't have importance to us as small island countries, whose only interest is to provide a modern living,” he told TVNZ at the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) meeting being held in Tuvalu.

 Australia and other western-aligned nations have launched diplomatic campaigns to limit China's inroads in the region but Malielegaoi said all nations that offered help were welcome.

PM Ardern says NZ’S aid to Samoa shouldn’t be compared to China’s big spending

Jacinda Ardern has been in Samoa, en route to Tokelau, and visited some of New Zealand's humble aid projects which have been dwarfed by China's flashy spending.

The manumea pigeon, Samoa's national bird, is under threat from illegal hunting. There are only 70 to 200 left, and New Zealand aid is helping to protect the endangered species.

“That's the same status as our Kākāpō, so it is something we're experiencing,” Ardern says. “We can share some of our learnings with each other as you seek to ensure the manumea has a bright future.”

Deadly earthquake hits China's Sichuan province

The 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck near Yibin in Changning County, south-east of the provincial capital Chengdu, late on Monday, officials said.

It was followed by several powerful aftershocks.

TV footage showed rescuers pulling injured people from the rubble of collapsed buildings.

More than 4,000 people have had to be relocated because their homes were destroyed or damaged, state media reported.

China Central Television showed the aftermath of a landslide that had blocked a road and left a lorry engulfed in debris.