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PHOTO OF THE WEEK
China: Mosques Shuttered, Razed, Altered in Muslim Areas – Human Rights Watch
Chinese authorities have decommissioned, closed down, demolished, and converted mosques for secular use as part of the government’s efforts to restrict the practice of Islam. The authorities have removed Islamic architectural features, such as domes and minarets, from many other mosques.
“The Chinese government is not ‘consolidating’ mosques as it claims, but closing many down in violation of religious freedom,” said Maya Wang, acting China director at Human Rights Watch. “The Chinese government’s closure, destruction, and repurposing of mosques is part of a systematic effort to curb the practice of Islam in China.”
Electronics worth a year-high $74 million, such as solar panels and microchips mostly from Malaysia and Vietnam, were denied entry in the United States in September or were checked for components from forced labour in China, official data show.
Since their introduction in June 2022, tighter U.S. rules on tackling human rights violations in China's Xinjiang region, home to the largely Muslim Uyghur minority, have led to controls on over 6,000 shipments carrying goods worth more than $2 billion through September, the latest month for which U.S. customs data are available.
Nearly half of them were rejected or were still pending approval, according to the data which were updated earlier in November.
POLITICS & SOCIETY
China’s cabinet announced a raft of measures Friday to tackle a wave of respiratory infections that has hit children particularly hard, as it could last until spring.
Local authorities should strengthen health surveillance and other disease control measures in key places such as schools and kindergartens as cases of influenza and mycoplasma pneumoniae have been on the rise in China since October, according to a notice from the State Council’s Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism.
Officials also ordered stepped-up vaccinations for children, seniors and people with underlying medical conditions, the notice said. Other measures include ramping up the production and supply of certain medications and requiring border authorities to keep a closer eye on incoming travelers with a strict regime of temperature checks and investigations into signs of illness.
Cases of respiratory illnesses have been surging in northern China, particularly among children, sparking speculation online of a new pandemic threat four years after Covid-19 first emerged in the country.
However Chinese health authorities have said the rising infections are a mix of already known viruses and are linked to the country's first full cold season after strict Covid restrictions were lifted last December.
And while emphasising that the full situation remains unclear, experts say there is little to suggest the cases were caused by a new virus.
China’s top health regulator has vowed to crack down on the buying, selling and forging of birth certificates after reports surfaced alleging that a number of hospitals nationwide were participating in the illegal activity, which could be used to conceal the true identities of trafficked and surrogate children.
The National Health Commission (NHC) has sent supervisory teams to provinces including Hubei, Guangdong and Guangxi to “urge and guide local governments to thoroughly investigate” the illegal sale of birth certificates and “hold those responsible accountable,” according to a statement published on Nov. 17. It will also carry out special inspections on the standardized management of birth certificates across the country, said the statement.
A local Chinese government has backtracked on its promise to reward parents who have a third child with cash handouts, potentially thwarting one effort by the world’s second-largest economy to boost its birthrate.
Zhengzhou authorities pledged to give handouts of up to 15,000 yuan ($2,097) to parents of more than two children starting September. Residents say the indebted local government has since turned down their subsidy applications, according to a Thursday report by a news outlet overseen by the official Henan Daily.
Local authorities in Guan County in eastern China’s Shandong province have vowed to stamp out the ancient practice of “ghost marriages” — the custom of marrying a couple, when one or both parties are dead — after a local case involving a 16-year-old girl’s posthumous marriage sparked public outcry.
China’s number of applicants to graduate schools dropped for the first time in nine years as jobseekers see a declining advantage to having a master’s degree in a bleak job market.
The number of graduate school applicants has climbed every year since 2015, and nearly tripled to 4.74 million for the class starting in 2023 from 1.65 million in 2015. But the number of applicants for the class starting in 2024 dropped by 358,000, the first decline in nine years.
In 2022, the admission rate for Chinese graduate schools was 24.22%, down from 29.05% in 2020.
As graduate programs are becoming more selective, increasingly demanding entrance exams make potential applicants flinch, Caixin learned from students. Meanwhile, the salary benefits brought by a higher degree are decreasing amid a record level of youth unemployment, prompting more college graduates to look for jobs immediately rather than continuing studies in graduate school.
Young people now find graduate school does not improve their job prospects, an executive at a graduate school exam prep institution told Caixin.