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Chinese shares close lower Thursday******
BEIJING, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- Chinese stocks closed lower on Thursday, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index down 0.24 percent, at 3,584.18 points.。
The Shenzhen Component Index closed 0.4 percent lower at 14,827.95 points. Enditem。
Russia blasts US for ratcheting up Ukraine tensions with troop alert******
Members of the Ukrainian armed forces deployed on the border.
Moscow on Tuesday accused the United States of ratcheting up tensions over Ukraine after Washington put several thousand troops on alert for possible deployment to boost NATO.
The West is accusing Russia, which has massed 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, of preparing a potential invasion of its pro-Western neighbor.
The troop build-up has sparked the biggest crisis in East-West ties since the Cold War, with US President Joe Biden holding a long call with European leaders on Monday.
Biden said there was "total unanimity" on how to deal with Russia, as the Pentagon announced that 8,500 US troops were being put on standby and NATO said it was sending ships and jets to bolster eastern Europe's defenses.
In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said these actions were only adding to an already tense atmosphere.
"The United States is escalating tensions," he told reporters. "We are watching these US actions with great concern."
Russia denies it has any plans to invade Ukraine, where Russia already seized the peninsula of Crimea in 2014.
Moscow has instead accused the West of increasing tensions with deployments and support for Ukraine, a former Soviet republic.
It has put forward a list of security demands, including for a guarantee that Ukraine never be allowed to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and that alliance forces pull back in Eastern European countries that joined after the Cold War.
The US and NATO have rejected the demands and told Russia to withdraw from Ukraine's borders, warning that an attack will trigger damaging economic sanctions, as well as a beefed-up NATO presence in eastern Europe.
A series of talks in various European cities this month have failed to ease tensions, though US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed at a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, last Friday to keep talking.
The US has promised to provide written answers to Moscow's demands this week, but has rejected calls for a ban on possible NATO expansion as a non-starter.
The crisis has laid bare divisions in the West, with some European Union members appearing less willing to take severe action against Russia, which supplies about 40 percent of the bloc's natural gas supplies.
The new government in EU economic powerhouse Germany in particular has faced criticism from Kyiv over its refusal to send defensive weapons to Ukraine, as well as hesitating over one of the harshest economic sanctions under discussion – cutting Moscow from the global SWIFT payments system.
Biden held a one-hour-and-20-minute video conference with allied leaders from Europe and NATO on Monday, telling reporters afterwards: "I had a very, very, very good meeting – total unanimity with all the European leaders."
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office also said there was unity "in the face of growing Russian hostility," while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for Russia "to undertake visible de-escalation."
There were hopes for some easing of tensions after the French government announced that Russian and Ukrainian officials would meet, along with French and German counterparts, in Paris today to try to find a way out of the impasse.
French President Emmanuel Macron "thinks there is a space for diplomacy, a path to de-escalation," an aide said.
Both the aide and Kremlin spokesman Peskov said Macron would speak to Putin soon.
In Kyiv, the families of US, British and Australian diplomats had been ordered to leave, though the EU and Ukrainian government said that any withdrawal of foreign embassy personnel was premature.
The Kremlin has accused NATO countries of "hysteria" over the crisis.
It also claimed this week that Ukrainian troops in the east of the country could launch an offensive, prompting President Volodymyr Zelensky's office to insist that Ukraine will not "succumb to provocations."
The US has stepped up security assistance to Ukraine, with Blinken on a visit to Kyiv last week confirming another US$200 million in aid.
A shipment arrived last Saturday and another batch was due later on Tuesday which the US embassy in Kyiv said would include "equipment and munitions to bolster the defensive capacity of the Ukrainian armed forces."
Chinese paddlers display top form at table tennis worlds as quarterfinals loom******
HOUSTON, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- Excitement ran high on the fourth-day competition of the World Table Tennis Championships held here on Friday.。
Chinese paddlers continued to show prowess with almost all of them sealing a place in the quarterfinals.。
Top seeds and world No. 1s Fan Zhendong and Chen Meng ousted their respective rivals in the men's singles and women's singles competitions to march into the last eight.。
Fan beat compatriot Wang Chuqin 4-2 and will play another teammate Lin Gaoyuan at the quarterfinals scheduled on Saturday.。
Another male paddler Liang Jingkun broke English hearts by ending the hopes of Liam Pitchford in an epic seven-game thriller in which the Chinese won 4-3. Liang will take on third seed Hugo Calderano from Brazil in the next round.。
Chen had a tougher battle at hand against former Asian champion Miu Hirano. Their battle for supremacy went the full distance to seven games, and it was Chen who eventually came up tops by defeating her Japanese rival 4-3.。
Sun Yingsha cruised into the last eight, while her teammates Wang Manyu and Chen Xingtong will play each other at the women's singles quarterfinals on Saturday.。
Wang Yidi outclassed Japan's Hina Hayata 4-2 to the next round, where she will take on third seed Mima Ito, Hayata's compatriot.。
Defending champions Wang Manyu/Sun Yingsha have been awarded quarterfinal tickets at the women's doubles, as they attempted to hold onto the trophy they held aloft in 2019. Sixth seeds Petrissa Solja/Shan Xiaona saved multiple game points to steal the opening game and refused to back down against the title favorites. However, Wang/Sun held their nerve and went on to recover an important 3-1 win, 16-18, 11-7, 11-6, 11-9.。
Another Female combination Chen Meng/Qian Tianyi also progressed to the last eight, after a 3-1 victory over Slovakian Barbora Balazova/Hana Matelova.。
Spain's Alvaro Robles and Romania's Ovidiu Ionescu, the 2019 runners-up, failed to replicate their heroics in Houston. The duo's journey in the men's doubles at the 2021 Worlds was halted after losing to their Chinese opponents Fan Zhendong/Wang Chuqin 3-1.。
Lin Gaoyuan/Liang Jingkun also moved into the last eight, after beating their French rivals Emmanuel Lebesson/Alexandre Cassin 3-0.。
In the mixed doubles, Wang Chuqin/Sun Yingsha secured a berth in the next round, after taking down their opponents Chen Chien-An/Chen Szu-Yu of Chinese Taipei 3-1.。
The closely-watched joint pairs from China and the United States, Lin Gaoyuan/Lily Zhang and Kanak Jha/Wang Manyu, had different fates on Friday.。
Lin/Zhang dispatched Russian pair Kirill Skachkov/Olga Vorobeva 3-1, winning their tickets to the quarterfinals, while Jha/Wang were stopped by Indian duo Sathiyan Gnanasekaran/Manika Batra 3-2.。
The two combinations, who carry on the spirit of Ping-Pong Diplomacy initiated between the two nations half a century ago, were confirmed to enter the draw by the sport's world governing body ITTF on Sunday and had just trained together once on the eve of the Worlds' opening. Enditem。
Table tennis worlds kick off in Houston******
HOUSTON, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- The 2021 World Table Tennis Championships kicked off in the U.S. city of Houston on Tuesday, with a youthful Chinese squad amongst the galaxy of stars at the week-long table tennis spectacle.。
The world's top players are going to face each other until Nov. 29 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in the "Bayou City." It marks the first time that the sport's prestigious event has been staged in the Americas.。
In the men's singles, world No. 1 Fan Zhendong is leading China alongside Zhou Qihao, Lin Gaoyuan, Wang Chuqin and Liang Jingkun.。
As one of China's main threats in the event, Japan features teenage sensation Tomokazu Harimoto, Koki Niwa, Yukiya Uda, Masataka Morizono and Shunsuke Togami.。
Germany will hinge on veteran Timo Boll, Patrick Franziska, Benedikt Duda and Ruwen Filus in the European teams' quest.。
Sweden's Mathias Falck, runner-up in the 2019 worlds in Budapest, and Brazil's Hugo Calderano will also be players to watch in Houston.。
Intriguing clashes are anticipated in the women's field as seven of the top 10 players prepare for battle.。
As the world's top two paddlers, the Chinese duo of Chen Meng and Sun Yingsha are deemed as title favorites, while world No. 3 Mima Ito from Japan is expected to mount a serious challenge.。
Meanwhile, China and the United States will join forces with two pairs formed of paddlers from both countries to compete in mixed doubles competition at the worlds on the year marking the 50th anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy.。
Reigning champions Ma Long, Liu Shiwen and Xu Xin will not defend their titles at the event as China has opted to send younger players in preparation for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France.。
The flagship event features 128 players in men's and women's singles and 64 pairs in men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles competing in a revamped and expanded straight knockout format for the first time.。
The World Table Tennis Championships has a storied history, with the first event held in London in 1926. The prestigious event welcomes the best table tennis players worldwide and has a global reach of over 500 million fans across TV and digital platforms. Enditem。