China

LULIANG, China — The meteoric rise of aluminum executive Zhang Zhixiong transformed his rural Chinese hamlet into a lucrative mining community. But his fall from grace was even more dramatic.

In March 2018, he and 10 others were sentenced to harsh prison terms for supposedly forming a criminal organization and illegal mining, among other crimes. Zhang, chairman of Juxin Mining Co., was accused of being a crime boss and received a 25-year prison sentence. He denies the charges.

President Biden's nominee to lead the CIA, William Burns, spent more than three decades as a diplomat. Yet Burns sounded very much like a national security chief at his confirmation hearing Wednesday as he described how the U.S. should be wary of China and its leader Xi Jinping.

"There are a growing number of areas in which Xi's China is a formidable, authoritarian adversary," Burns told the Senate Intelligence Committee in his opening remarks.

Chinese pharmaceutical makers are seeking market approval from Beijing for two new coronavirus vaccines – one that has shown 72% efficacy and another 69% efficacy in human Phase III trials.

The separate announcements on Wednesday come from Sinopharm for its second vaccine after the state-run company's first was approved for distribution in December, and from CanSino Biologics, Inc. (CanSinoBIO), for its first vaccine.

As COVID cases began to rise a year ago, a Chinese company contacted several U.S. states and offered to set up testing labs. As a byproduct, the Chinese firm, Beijing Genomics Institute, would likely gain access to the DNA of those tested.

President Biden's national security adviser said Sunday that the administration has concerns over the data China has provided to the World Health Organization regarding the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We need a credible, open, transparent international investigation led by the World Health Organization," Jake Sullivan said in an interview with CBS' Face the Nation.

After traveling to Wuhan, China, a team of researchers from the World Health Organization is readying a preliminary report on the origins of the coronavirus.

Wuhan is where the virus was first reported in December 2019.

The WHO team's main public conclusion so far is that it's "extremely unlikely" that the virus originated in a lab in Wuhan. The scientists think the virus most likely started in bats, then jumped to other animals, then to humans.

Initial findings this week by World Health Organization researchers into the origins of the coronavirus are raising concerns in the White House over the independence of their investigation as well as the level of transparency China is providing into the early days of the pandemic.

Updated at 1:32 p.m. ET

China's broadcasting regulator has banned the BBC World Service from airing there, according to a report in Chinese state media. The news follows a move by Britain's communications regulator last week to strip the state-run China global television network of its broadcast license in the U.K.

Updated on Thursday at 11:45 a.m. ET

President Biden said he spoke for "two straight hours" with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday night — an opening conversation that provided insight about how the new administration plans to tackle the vast economic and security challenges posed by Beijing.

Efforts to ban TikTok under then-President Donald Trump were put on ice on Wednesday, as the Department of Justice signaled in a new court filing that the Biden administration is backing off the pressure on the Chinese-owned video-sharing app.

Citing national security concerns, Trump had attempted to force the sale of TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, to an American company. If no deal was reached, Trump said TikTok would be effectively blacklisted in the U.S.

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