Journalists, lawyers, and religious minorities have all raised concerns over China's crackdown on civil society. President Xi is making his first state visit to Washington this month.
Beijing put on an imposing display of its growing military clout and national pride as it celebrated the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the defeat of Japanese imperial forces.
Twenty-three people have now been detained in a broadening investigation of the port city's storage facility blasts, which killed more than 140.
Japan is worried that China is building 16 oil rigs in order to exploit oil reserves in the Japanese part of the sea.
A briefing on what China wants: It speaks of a 'peaceful rise' in Asia and of binding the region with liberal markets. But it's creating military bases and throwing sharp elbows far below its own territory.
Japanese forces are currently bound by a postwar Constitution that prevents them playing a combat role outside Japan. Pacifist groups and numerous legal scholars have challenged the legislation.
But nine other tourists arrested in Inner Mongolia on a 47-day visit to ancient sites are being held on charges of 'criminal wrongdoing.' Those due to be released are from South Africa and Britain.