Nicola Davison is a British freelance writer and editor based in London.
Universal flu vaccine closer to reality after Chinese-Australian scientific breakthrough

Universal flu vaccine closer to reality after Chinese-Australian scientific breakthrough

A single vaccine that immunises against all types of influenza has come closer to being a reality, after scientists in Australia and China discovered how the body’s immunity cells remember flu viruses. By studying patients infected with a deadly bird flu virus in China in 2013, scientists from the University of Melbourne and Fudan University...
The ultimate package holiday: Chinese billionaire takes 6,400 staff to France

The ultimate package holiday: Chinese billionaire takes 6,400 staff to France

A Chinese company has treated 6,400 members of staff to a four-day holiday in France, booking 140 hotels in Paris and 4,700 rooms on the Cote d’Azur. The employees of Tiens Group, a conglomerate chaired by one of China’s business billionaires, Li Jinyuan, is the biggest tour group to ever visit France. During the four-day break between...
'Our purity is above 99%': the Chinese labs churning out legal highs for the west

‘Our purity is above 99%’: the Chinese labs churning out legal highs for the west

At midnight on a recent Friday, in a backroom at Chemsun Global pharmaceutical laboratory in Shanghai, a Chinese chemist who called himself Terry was eager to close a deal. Outside in the lab a bright yellow liquid whirred around a flask. The smell of fumes was so intense it left a bitter, chemical aftertaste. The...
University architecture: from cloisters to tutorial pods

University architecture: from cloisters to tutorial pods

On a morning in March, Thomas Heatherwick gave a presentation to a packed classroom on the campus of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Two dozen academics and journalists had gathered in Learning Hub, the designer’s latest project, for its grand unveiling. As Heatherwick clicked through PowerPoint slides, televisions mounted on the room’s curved walls flashed with his celebrated...
Chinese feminists detained for 'picking quarrels'

Chinese feminists detained for ‘picking quarrels’

The families of five Chinese feminists detained by authorities for “picking quarrels” have called for their immediate release. The young women were detained on the eve of International Women’s Day on March 8, which they had planned to mark by distributing leaflets and stickers to raise awareness of sexual harassment. The women, aged between 25 and 32, were taken...
China defends construction on disputed Spratly Islands

China defends construction on disputed Spratly Islands

China has defended its controversial policy of land reclamation in the disputed South China Sea after Barack Obama appeared to accuse the country of “elbowing aside” its smaller neighbours. Beijing has faced mounting global criticism over its construction on the Spratly Island archipelago, a group of largely low-lying sandbars and reefs scattered across a region claimed by...
Mourners-for-rent fill in for busy relatives on China's tomb-sweeping day

Mourners-for-rent fill in for busy relatives on China’s tomb-sweeping day

Busy modern Chinese professionals are contracting the services of “professional mourners,” to pay the necessary respects to deceased relatives, on behalf of the family. Monday was the final day of China’s three-day “Qingming jie”, or tomb-sweeping festival – a national holiday. Relatives visit the graves of ancestors to mourn the departed, tidy their graves, and burn paper offerings...
China to penalise badly behaved tourists

China to penalise badly behaved tourists

Chinese authorities will keep records of “uncivilised” behaviour by its tourists, the country’s tourism bureau announced on Tuesday, in the latest measure aimed at reigning in the unruly behaviour of citizens travelling at home or abroad. In a notice issued on its website, the National Tourism Administration announced that records of badly behaved tourists will be...
China's panda population increases by 17 per cent, major census finds

China’s panda population increases by 17 per cent, major census finds

The number of giant pandas living in the wild has increased by nearly 17 per cent over the last decade, according to a survey by the Chinese government released on Saturday. The census, conducted by the State Administration of Forestry, found 1,864 giant pandas were living in the wild by the end of 2013, an...
China ivory ban: will it make any difference?

China ivory ban: will it make any difference?

China on Thursday announced a year-long ban on imported ivory carvings. The announcement came days before the Duke of Cambridge, known for his campaigns to protect wildlife, visits the country. Is there more to the ban than shrewd diplomacy? The perfunctory announcement on the website of the State Forestry Administration, the bureau that oversees wildlife...
3D-printed cities: is this the future?

3D-printed cities: is this the future?

The words “we print architecture’s future” adorn the wall of a showroom on the outskirts of Suzhou, a rapidly urbanising city in eastern China. Arranged around the room are samples of odd-looking concrete wall of varying thickness. Outside, across the car park of this otherwise unremarkable industrial estate, is a grand, neoclassical mansion that recently...
Kim Jong-un flies in private jet over Pyongyang to monitor building development

Kim Jong-un flies in private jet over Pyongyang to monitor building development

Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea, has taken to the skies in his private jet to observe a vast building project in Pyongyang, which he said “showcases the level of the Korean people’s civilisation and mental power of the army and people.” The government-run North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Mr Kim...