China aspires to be a world power. It's understood that China cannot do this alone. Even the mighty United States has allies it depends on. Who can China depend on? Not a lot. In fact, China has a rather disturbing roster of friends. There's Pakistan, a corrupt nation, always on the verge of falling apart and one of the few remaining sanctuaries for Islamic terrorists. China is also cozy with North Korea, Iran and Myanmar, pariah nations all. So China has been forced to improvise. This has resulted in uniting the search for allies, with business opportunities, China embraces countries willing to do business (especially if they have needed raw materials), no matter what their international reputation. As a result, China has made friends with some of the most unsavory states of Africa. China is nonplussed by Western disdain at this behavior. It's business, and the outcast states have few nations they can do business with. That cuts down on the competition. Operating conditions are less than ideal, but the Chinese are accustomed to dealing with corruption and criminal gangs. It's really a good fit.
China played on these friendships recently to get Cambodia to expel twenty Chinese citizens (ethnic Turks, or Uighurs) suspected of participating in recent ethnic violence, and sending them back to China. China does not want the separatist minded Uighurs setting up operations outside China, and is using all its diplomatic clout to extradite wanted Chinese citizens from foreign sanctuaries.
Chinese courts are being kept busy persecuting Internet pests. The expense and stress of going to trial, then the large fines, or even jail term, that usually result, causes outspoken Chinese to think twice before they say something, the government might not like, on the Internet. Writer Liu Xiaobo was recently sentenced to 11 years in prison, because he wrote a book that called for more freedom. China has been a communist police state for the last 60 years, and the people in charge want to keep it that way.
December 27, 2009: China announced that it had rescued the Chinese coal ship, the De Xin Hai, and its 25 Chinese sailors, off the coast of Somalia. What was not immediately mentioned was the payment of a $3.5 million ransom, and the pirates then leaving the ship. The seizure of the ship, two months ago, despite the presence of Chinese warships and commandos in the area, was embarrassing for the Chinese government. Little was said, in the government controlled press, about the De Xin Hai. But the chatter on the Internet was less than flattering for the government. That apparently led to the attempt to spin the ransom payment as a military rescue mission.
December 24, 2009: A court in western China condemned five more Uighur men to death, for participating in ethnic violence earlier in the year. Five other death sentences were commuted, meaning the accused would spend life in prison. Nearly a thousand people, mostly Uighurs, have been arrested and are being prosecuted. The government is still seeking several hundred others, many who have fled the country.
December 17, 2009: China has a growing reputation for taking every opportunity to do a little espionage on the side, especially an overseas business operation is close to a military base. For example, the U.S. government is threatening to block a Chinese firm from developing a mine in Nevada, because the operation would be too close (80 kilometers) to Fallon Naval Air Station, where experimental work is done. Earlier in the year, Australia also blocked Chinese investment in a mining operation that was near Woomera (where missiles are tested.) In Taiwan, Chinese government officials are not allowed to own real estate. While there are some national security concerns at play here, Taiwan is mainly concerned with preventing corrupt Chinese officials from hiding their loot in the form of Taiwanese commercial and residential property.