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The Prime Minister is leading the largest ever trade delegation to China. But what value do these junkets really deliver?

Sean O'Grady: China will overtake America, the only question is when

Few things would be more powerfully symbolic of the shift in the balance of global economic power than to have oil traded in the Chinese renminbi rather than the American dollar.

Vermeer's Hat, By Timothy Brook

The way that Timothy Brook teases out trade routes, struggles for power and the delicate dance of international relations from an image of a hat or a china bowl is truly mesmerising. In this accessible but authoritative study, he relies on five paintings by Vermeer (and Girl with a Pearl Earring isn't one of them) for his history of the Dutch reach for global power, and shows, better than anyone I've read so far, the truly subversive power of detail – especially when it's brought to the fore instead of filling in the background.

China probes internet bootcamp after teen dies

Chinese police are investigating a bootcamp for Internet addicts after a teenage boy died, apparently following a severe beating, just hours after checking in, the official Xinhua news agency said late on Wednesday.

17 dead after building collapses in China

An unfinished factory building collapsed amid a violent thunderstorm today in northern China, killing 17 people, state media and a government official said.

Death toll in China riots rises to 192

State media reports the death toll for July 5 ethnic riots in western China has risen to 192.

Stephen King: China takes small steps towards breaking the sway of the US dollar

For nations sitting on piles of dollar assets, the fall in the dollar's value is hardly good news

Brothers, By Yu Hua

Blood-soaked scenes from China's crisis

Hamish McRae: Renminbi on the way to being the world's most important currency

Economic Life: The road to a world of multiple reserve currencies will be a bumpy one, and people will get hurt

China Witness, By Xinran

Today China speaks to the world, louder and in more mixed voices than ever before. But what of the "silent generation" of elders whose burden of loss and regret makes them all-but inaudible ghosts at the boom-time feast?

Geithner reassures Chinese their dollar assets are safe

US Treasury Secretary politely asks rulers to devalue nation's currency

China reacts angrily to US military report

China has criticised a newly released US report on Beijing's growing military power as a "gross distortion" and interference in its affairs.

John Rentoul: I love the sound of breaking china

Now, this is most enjoyable. David Cameron's stealthy acceptance of Labour's plan to impose a new 45 per cent rate of tax on incomes over £150,000 a year from April 2011 has thrown the Conservatives into a blue funk.

Games Review: My Chinese Coach

DS, Ubisoft, £19.99

Jeremy Warner: Exchange rates reignite fears of protectionism

Outlook: Exchange rate worries swept back on to the international agenda this week with a leading financier opining that the pound was "finished", various eurozone nations expressing concern over sterling's dramatic devaluation, the new US Treasury Secretary accusing the Chinese of "manipulating" their currency to prevent it appreciating against the dollar, and the Japanese hinting at renewed currency intervention to stop the yen rising any further.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

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Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

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From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

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We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

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Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

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