China to reopen borders, drop Covid quarantine from January 8 – Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping vow to deepen bilateral ties – China gives Hong Kong leader power to bar overseas lawyers
Taiwan to extend conscription to one year from 2024
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What’s Happening in China
This week we're looking at how the world is responding after China announced it would reopen its borders next week, the meeting between Putin and Xi, and so much more.
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PHOTO OF THE WEEK
The response of many U.N. member states to the Uyghur issue is based on political calculations in how they align with China, said Ilshat Hassan Kokbore, an American Uyghur political analyst and vice chairman of the executive committee of the World Uyghur Congress.
After almost three years of closed borders, this will reopen the country to those with work and study visas, or seeking to visit family.
In a statement issued after talks with Chinese officials the UN health agency said: "WHO again asked for regular sharing of specific and real-time data on the epidemiological situation... and data on vaccinations delivered and vaccination status, especially in vulnerable people and those over 60."
The UK government said its decision was due to a "lack of comprehensive health information shared by China".
Spain, Israel and South Korea also announced on Friday that they will introduce testing requirements in response to the increasing number of infections in China.
Some scientists have questioned the approach of the UK and US - saying it is better to screen people once they have arrived. Italy and Spain have introduced post-arrival testing.
But not all countries have announced additional controls. Germany has joined Australia and Portugal in saying there will be no new rules yet.
No novel Covid-19 variants have emerged in China, according to a global consortium that’s tracking coronavirus mutations, potentially easing concerns that the country’s record wave of infections would give rise to new strains that could circulate around the world.
Chinese people have rushed to book overseas travel after Beijing announced it would reopen its borders next month.
A mix of factors including high airfare, concern over rampant infections in China, school schedules and even concerns over US visas are preventing the rush home. Eager to put years of pandemic separation behind them, many students say a return later in the year makes more sense.
The coronavirus surge in Beijing has peaked – the first Chinese city to reach this point since the country abandoned its zero-Covid policy, according to the foreign ministry.
With a severe shortage of approved antivirals such as Paxlovid, which is manufactured by American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Chinese residents have resorted to underground channels to source the drug and various generic medicines, domestic media reported.
The state-run China News Service reported Monday that after receiving training, community doctors will administer the medicine to Covid-19 patients and give instructions on how to use them.
However, while Paxlovid has already been shown to be 88 per cent successful in reducing hospitalisation or death among high-risk, unvaccinated individuals, the efficacy of VV116 in reducing severe symptoms could not be determined.
The announcement came as mainland China took a major step towards easing COVID-19 border controls, with Chinese policymakers deeming the Omicron variant of the new coronavirus to have weakened in pathogenicity.
POLITICS & SOCIETY
China appointed its ambassador to the US, Qin Gang, as the new foreign minister, as the Asian nation shows signs of moving back to a lower-key diplomatic strategy after a growing backlash against its confrontational style.
President Xi Jinping called on top leaders of his inner circle to adhere to the Communist Party’s instructions “under all circumstances” during a two-day Politburo session that concluded on Tuesday.
I’ve Had Enough of My Parents’ ‘No Pain, No Gain’ – The New York Times
This acceptance of pain — deeply rooted in our culture — won’t change overnight. But our capacity for forbearance should not mean having to endure tyranny and injustice.
Japan, Thailand, South Korea, the U.S., Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and the U.K. made the list of top 10 destinations outside the mainland with the fastest-growing search volume, the company said. Macao and Hong Kong also made the list, which did not include any countries on the European continent.
China’s 2022 in Photos – Sixth Tone
Sixth Tone presents 40 photos that represent these turbulent moments from 2022.
HONG KONG & MACAO
Hong Kong’s leader or an oversight committee can decide whether a defendant in a national security trial is permitted to use a foreign lawyer, China’s top legislative body has determined in clarifying two clauses of the Beijing-imposed law after media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chi-ying tried to hire a British barrister.
Hong Kong’s human rights lawyers are fleeing abroad amid an effort to cleanse the city of dissent. The pressure is part of a wider crackdown by the ruling Communist Party on lawyers across China, say activists, legal scholars and diplomats.
From Thursday, Hongkongers will no longer have to scan their Vaccine Pass or provide proof of vaccination when entering restaurants or other businesses. Venue capacity limits will be lifted and PCR tests for arrivals will be axed.
Now, even after the recent reopening of the world’s biggest gambling hub, tourists are few and many businesses are shuttered, underlining analysts' views that a recovery will be uneven and take some time.
Taiwan will extend compulsory military service to one year from four months from 2024 due to the rising threat the democratically governed island faces from its giant neighbour China, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday.
Seventy-one Chinese air force aircraft including fighter jets and drones entered Taiwan's air defence identification zone in the past 24 hours, the island's government said on Monday, the largest reported incursion to date.
Song Tao, former head of the International Department of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, has been appointed the new director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, the office’s website showed Wednesday.
Taiwan will test arrivals from China for COVID-19 from Jan. 1 in response to a surge in cases there, the government said on Wednesday, joining other countries in stepping up controls on people coming from China.
Processing time for new passport to be extended to 6 days – Focus Taiwan
The processing time for a new passport application will be extended from four working days to six working days from Jan. 3, 2023, amid record-high demand ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday.
Visiting Japanese parliamentarian Hiroshige Seko told President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) Wednesday that Japan's latest national defense paper has made it clear that Tokyo will not tolerate unilateral forces changing the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan thanks U.S. for Volcano mine dispensing system sale – Focus Taiwan
Taiwan's government thanked the United States Thursday after Washington approved the sale of up to US$180 million of vehicle-based mine dispensing equipment.
We Can Only Kick Taiwan Down the Road For So Long – The Scholar’s Stage
[…] the more serious problem with can-kicking is this: we are not just kicking down the road the core problems that divide Taiwan and China, but also a necessary debate among ourselves about our commitment to the Taiwanese cause.
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