Beijing Olympics guest list heavy on strongmen and autocrats: Report


Beijing [China], (ANI): Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the Beijing Olympics on Friday flanked by leaders who are described by Democracy Index 2020, as authoritarian countries.

Some 20 high-level dignitaries including Presidents, Prime Ministers and heads of state are attending the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit, around half of those dignitaries hail from authoritarian countries with several others listed as “hybrid regimes,” American news broadcaster CNN reported.
The 2022 Beijing Games officially launched today against a backdrop of Chinese government crimes against humanity targeting Uyghur Muslims and other Turkic communities.

Several governments have announced they would withhold sending high-level diplomatic representation to the Games in response to Beijing’s ongoing abuses.

Democracies including Britain, Australia, and Canada are among those to join a US-led diplomatic boycott of the Games, citing the human rights record of China. Other countries including New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Austria have declined invitations, citing the pandemic or Beijing’s stringent Covid-19 controls.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said these Games–by which Beijing hopes to “sportswash” its abysmal rights record–reflect Xi Jinping’s assault on human rights since coming to power: devastating independent civil society, erasing press freedom, expanding high-tech surveillance.

Several rights groups said that the International Olympic Committee and The Olympic Partners (TOP) corporate sponsors of these Games have not addressed questions whether their involvement would contribute to human rights violations, including concerns around forced labor.

“It’s not possible for the Olympic Games to be a ‘force for good,’ as the International Olympic Committee claims, while the host government is committing grave crimes in violation of international law,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at HRW, said in a statement. Image(instagram)

China targets UK Minister for making anit-Beijing remarks, says Britain following Cold War playbook

London [UK] (ANI): China has said that the UK is following the Cold War playbook, which it will get nowhere following the British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Liz Truss’ remarks in Australia where she blamed Beijing for exerting the “economic coercion” against other countries and working more closely with Russia.
“The accusations against China in this speech confuse right and wrong and raise questions about their real intention. They are full of disinformation about China as well as the current international situation,” the Chinese Embassy in the UK said in a statement on Sunday. “Today’s world is a far cry from the one 40 or 50 years ago. The Cold War is long gone! In the face of global challenges including pandemics, what the international community needs is solidarity and cooperation, not division or confrontation. British diplomacy, if following the Cold War playbook, will get nowhere,” the statement added.
The embassy further stated that what the people are seeing is parroting of US rhetorics in the speech, drawing lines along with ideology and discrediting other sovereign countries regardless of facts. “This is an attempt to justify the move to create the small circles, which has inflicted negative impact on regional peace and stability,” it said.
China’s remarks came after UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Liz Truss delivered a speech at the Lowy Institute of Australia recently, in which she mentioned China several times, blaming China groundlessly for exerting “economic coercion” against other countries and working more closely with Russia. She called on the UK and Australia to work with some other countries to “defend economic security and freedom”. (Image source: Instagram)

In tit-for-tat response, US blocks Chinese airlines after Beijing’s action

Washington [US] (ANI): The US on Friday (local time) in a counterstroke to China’s virus policy blocked 44 passenger flights by Chinese airlines as Beijing had taken the same step against American carriers as part of its strict coronavirus control policies.
The move comes as China has been suspending flights by American carriers after alleging in-bound passengers had later tested positive for the coronavirus, said Ian Duncan, a reporter covering federal transportation agencies and the politics of transportation, writing in The Washington Post. The US Transportation Department issued an order Friday blocking 44 passenger flights by Chinese airlines. The restrictions begin on January 30 and run until March 29. The move will affect flights between Los Angeles and New York and five Chinese cities, reported The Washington Post.
Since the early days of the pandemic, the Chinese government has imposed a policy known as the “circuit breaker” that imposed limits on inbound flights by airlines if their passengers subsequently test positive for the coronavirus.
The US government argued that the policy is an unfair restriction on aviation that violates a long-standing agreement between the two countries.
The dispute over US-China aviation during the pandemic has been rumbling since late spring of 2020, when the Trump administration moved to block flights from China. The two countries eventually agreed to allow limited schedules.
In August, the Chinese government imposed capacity limits on United Airlines, an alternative sanction under the circuit breaker. The United States responded, targeting Chinese airlines, said Duncan.
The new US order goes further, banning passengers altogether. The four Chinese carriers targeted in the order will be permitted to continue operating flights from the United States to China if they only carry cargo. They still are allowed to carry passengers from China to the United States.
The suspended flights to China begin on January 30 and include flights from the carriers Xiamen Airlines, China Southern Airlines Company and Air China.
Airlines that operate a China-bound flight that contains between five and nine passengers who subsequently test positive for the coronavirus are supposed to have two options: suspend that flight for two weeks or limit that flight’s capacity to 40 percent for four weeks. The Chinese government says it applies the rules in the same way to domestic and international airlines, said Duncan.
But the Transportation Department says in the case of the most recent incidents, the US carriers were not given the choice and were told they must cancel the flights, while being denied advance warning.
“US carriers, who are following all relevant Chinese regulations with respect to pre-departure and in-flight protocols, should not be penalized if passengers, post-arrival, later test positive for COVID-19,” the department wrote in Friday’s order.
Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines, which has had 14 flights suspended by China in recent weeks, said, “We appreciate continued US government efforts to ensure fairness and access to China.”

Syria joins BRI as West continues to criticize Beijing for its debt trap tactics

Damascus [Syria] (ANI): Amid rising accusations against China for trapping countries in massive debts with larger infrastructure plans, Syria has joined Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative which Beijing says will open broad horizons of cooperation for the Middle-East country.
The ceremony of Syria’s admission into the initiative took place at the Planning and International Cooperation Commission in the capital Damascus and was attended by Fadi Khalil, the head of the commission, and Feng Biao, China’s ambassador to Syria, during which both sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Syria joining the BRI, reported Xinhua. The admission of Syria into the initiative revives the old role of Syria on the ancient Silk Road, said Khalil, adding it will help in boosting bilateral cooperation with China and multilateral cooperation with other countries, which are desirous of cooperating with Syria.
He also said that Syria had been one of the main countries on the ancient Silk Road particularly the cities of Aleppo and Palmyra.
With regard to the BRI, Chinese envoy Feng said that the cooperation between Beijing-Syria provides the greatest contribution to the economic reconstruction and social development in Syria and it also enhances the harmonization between the BRI and the eastward strategy proposed by Syria.
China proposed BRI in 2013, which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Beijing said that it aims to build a trade, investment, and infrastructure network connecting Asia with other parts of the world along the ancient Silk Road trade routes and beyond.
Meanwhile, several countries have criticised the BRI project as they said that the project has become synonymous with wasteful spending, ecological destruction and massive debt burdens and aims to make profits for the participating country’s leaders and Chinese companies at the cost of the nation’s natural resources or people, said the InsideOver in a report earlier.
In 2018, a study found that 270 out of 1,814 BRI-related projects had problems related to debt sustainability, labour and environmental standards, national security, transparency, and corruption. A McKinsey survey in 2017 revealed that 60 per cent to 80 per cent of the Chinese companies in Africa admitted to paying bribes for bagging contracts. Further, Chinese firms scored second to last in one of the latest Transparency International Bribe Payers Index in the Continent, added the InsideOver. (Image source: Unsplash)

Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony downsized amid surge in COVID-19 cases

Beijing [China] (ANI): China has downsized the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chinese Film Director Zhang Yimou has announced that the opening ceremony will be much smaller than that of the 2008 Summer Games held in the capital, reported NHK World. Zhang has been appointed chief director of the Games’ opening and closing ceremonies, reprising his role in the 2008 Olympics.
He said the opening ceremony on February 4 at the National Stadium, known as the Bird’s Nest, will feature about 3,000 performers and last less than 100 minutes, reported NHK World.
The number of performers is one-fifth that of the 2008 ceremony and the length is less than half.
With less than one month to go before the Olympics, community infections of the Omicron coronavirus variant have been confirmed in the city of Tianjin, adjacent to Beijing, and the inland province of Henan, reported NHK World.
Whereas the 2008 Summer Olympics was widely regarded as China’s “coming out party” on the world stage (replete with the official theme song, “Beijing Welcomes You”), the 2022 Winter Games will be held within a tightly sealed Covid-safe “bubble” isolating participants and attendees from the wider Chinese population. (Image source: Unsplash)

North Korea will not take part in Beijing Winter Olympics, says Report

Pyongyang [North Korea]: North Korea will not take part in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics over the activities of “hostile forces” and the COVID-19 pandemic, Russian news agency reported citing North Korean media on Friday.
“We could not take part in the Olympics due to the hostile forces’ moves and the worldwide pandemic, but we would fully support the Chinese comrades in all their work to hold splendid and wonderful Olympic festival,” Sputnik reported citing KCNA news agency. The KCNA has cited a letter from the North Korean Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports to the Chinese Olympic Committee.
The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing will be held from February 4-20. The massive security deployment and checks are being carried out by China soon before the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Meanwhile, in an effort to conduct Winter Olympics next month hassle-free, China is adamant about implementing a Zero-COVID policy, further complicating problems for its citizens.
China had welcomed the year 2022 with the worst tally of COVID-19 cases for any seven-day period since subduing the country’s first epidemic nearly two years ago.
The worst situation is said to be found in Xi’an town and since December, it is in the grip of a COVID-19 wave, according to Hong Kong Post.
For over two weeks now, Xi’an’s 13 million residents are confined to their homes.
Only one person per household is allowed to leave home every two days to buy essential goods. Nobody can leave the city whatever the circumstances. The process of seeking permission is cumbersome, according to Hong Kong Post. (ANI)
The US, the UK, Australia, Canada and Lithuania have announced the diplomatic boycott of games.

Beijing tightens control amid rising COVID cases

Beijing [China]: Beijing on Friday tightened epidemic prevention and control amid concerns around raging Omicron variant overseas as well as rising cases in China.
Beijing’s moves came one day after Xi’an, the capital city of Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, known for its Terracotta Warriors, imposed a citywide lockdown following a fresh flare-up that spilled over into six cities including Beijing, Chinese-state media Global Times reported. Chinese health analysts said the local outbreak in Xi’an, which occurred around 40 days ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, increases the epidemic prevention pressure for China, but with timely and precise measures, experience in quelling local outbreaks and high vaccination rate among the Chinese population and participants of the Games, China will ensure a safe international sports event.
Xu Hejian, a spokesperson from the Beijing government, said at Friday’s media briefing that Beijing had revised its COVID-19 prevention and control measures, calling on residents to spend the upcoming holidays – New Year’s Day and Spring Festival – in Beijing.
The new measures apply to cases of locally transmitted infections in Beijing, residents in the district where reported cases are not allowed to leave the capital other than for essential reasons, and residents in the city’s townships where reported cases are restricted from leaving Beijing, Xu said.

China appreciates Pakistan for being against ‘politicization’ of sports, opposing boycott of Olympics

Islamabad [Pakistan]: China’s Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong on Sunday said that his country appreciates Pakistan for being against the ‘politicization’ of sports after Islamabad said that the Beijing Winter Olympics would offer “a spectacular and colourful gala to sports enthusiasts around the world.”
Taking to Twitter, the envoy wrote: “Pakistan’s position to oppose any form of politicization of sports is highly appreciated. The Beijing Winter Olympic Games is not a stage for the posturing and grandstanding of politicians,” he wrote, reported Geo News. While countries like the US, UK, Australia, Lithuania and Canada has announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, Pakistan supported its all-weather ally and said that the Beijing Olympics would offer “a spectacular and colourful gala to sports enthusiasts around the world.”
According to Xinhua News Agency, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad, while addressing a weekly media briefing, had expressed Pakistan’s confidence in the neighbouring country’s plan to host the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Per the report, Ahmad had said that the event would offer “a spectacular and colourful gala to sports enthusiasts around the world, including in Pakistan,” despite the limitations imposed by COVID-19.
“The Olympic games symbolise sportsmanship, team spirit, unity, effort, struggle, and maintaining grace in competition whatever the results are,” the spokesperson had said.
Meanwhile, in a symbolic protest against China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” the Biden administration on Monday announced that it has decided not to send an official US delegation to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
France too has “well noted” the decision of the United States to diplomatically boycott the Winter Olympics in Beijing of 2022 and it will consult with European partners on the next step, a foreign ministry spokesperson on Tuesday.

China worried about COVID-19 marring Winter Olympics 2022

Beijing [China]: China is struggling with fulfilling its claim of making the country COVID free for the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, scheduled to be held in February next year.
The Chinese authorities are willing and doing, everything that is required to keep the caseload to remain at zero. Despite strict protocols, some regions in China are reporting fresh cases daily. China has implemented zero local transmissions, an official policy, at the cost of people’s freedom and violation of rights.
Citing a CNN report, Hong Kong Post reported that despite the strict monitoring, “cases have been detected over the past week in the country’s largest cities, from Beijing and Shanghai to Guangzhou”.
However, China claims that Beijing is isolated from the rest of the country during the period of the Winter Games to ensure that the virus does not enter the capital city.
At the beginning of the week, at least 61 new cases of COVID-19 were reported from the Chinese mainland, as per local media.
The Winter Games are already controversial because several countries led by the United States announced a diplomatic boycott.
Canada is the latest country to join the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, first initiated by the United States. The two other countries are Australia and the United Kingdom.
Human rights activists have raised their voices against China’s detention of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province and crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
In March, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union imposed sanctions on four Chinese officials and one entity for alleged human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, according to Sputnik.

Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 will see Cold War battle lines drawn

Beijing [China]: As Beijing is set to host the Winter Olympics next year, it could see Cold War battle lines being drawn with many of the democratic countries diplomatically boycotting it.
The US will stage a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing to protest the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) myriad human rights abuses, according to Taiwan News. Further, US close strategic ally, Australia confirmed that it too would send no diplomatic representation to the Beijing Olympics, followed by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirming there were no plans for officials to attend. Later the same day, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed the same.
On the other hand, the Taiwan government has not taken a position at the moment.
Further, the democratic countries around the world sending a clear message to China that its human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong, and elsewhere, will no longer be tolerated, according to Taiwan News.
Further, there has been much talk about whether the world is edging toward a new Cold War and the Winter Olympics could be one where battle lines are according to Taiwan News.

After Australian PM, Boris Johnson announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

London [UK]: The United Kingdom has joined the US in announcing a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics over concerns about human rights abuses in China.
“Britain will effectively impose a diplomatic boycott of next year’s Winter Olympics in China as no ministers or officials are expected to attend,” Kyodo News reported citing Prime Minister Boris Johnson as saying in parliament. The move, which follows similar announcements made by the United States and Australia, is a show of protest over China’s alleged human rights abuses against the Muslim Uyghur minority and others, said the Japanese media.
Earlier today, Australia also announced a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics.
Meanwhile, China “expresses strong dissatisfaction with and firm opposition to” Australia’s decision, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday, Kyodo News reported.
On Monday, the White House announced that the US would not send an official delegation to the 2022 Winter Olympics due to human rights violations by China. The Chinese government rejected the allegation and criticized the US for promoting the boycott of the Games among its allies and politicizing sports, which is contrary to the Olympic Charter.
Earlier on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that “no one would care” if a number of foreign officials chose not to attend the Games, as per Sputnik.
The 2022 Beijing Winter Games will be held from February 4-20.

Australia announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Canberra [Australia]: Australia has joined the US in announcing a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics over concerns about human rights abuses in China.
This comes a few days after the Biden administration announced the decision not to send an official US delegation to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that this decision should come as “no surprise” that their diplomats and politicians would boycott the event, citing the breakdown in the ties with China, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported.
“I’m doing it because it’s in Australia’s national interest,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do.”
Morrison said Beijing’s own diplomatic freeze on Australia had also fed into the decision for officials to boycott the Games because Australia had been unable to raise its concerns about human rights directly with Chinese leaders.
Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said US athletes will still participate in the Olympics, but the administration will not be sending government officials to the games.
The move marks an escalation of pressure by the US on China over reports of forced labour and human rights abuses in Xinjiang, particularly against the Uyghur minority community, CNN reported.
During a White House briefing, Psaki said the US is looking to send a “clear message” that the human rights abuses in China mean there cannot be “business as usual.”
Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it “fully respects” the US government’s decision of the diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympic Games 2022 which is set to be held in Beijing.
“The presence of government officials and diplomats is a purely political decision for each government, which the IOC in its political neutrality fully respects. At the same time, this announcement also makes clear that the Olympic Games and the participation of the athletes are beyond politics, and we welcome this,” IOC said in the statement on Monday.

China will successfully hold 2022 Beijing Olympics despite Omicron concerns

Beijing [China] : China will successfully hold the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games on schedule, despite the worldwide spread of the new Omicron coronavirus strain, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday.
“Regarding the impact of the Omicron strain on the Winter Olympics, I think it will definitely bring some prevention and control challenges, but thanks to China’s experience in preventing the spread of and combating COVID-19, I am fully confident that the Winter Olympics the games will be successfully held in accordance with the schedule,” Sputnik quoted Zhao as saying. The Games are scheduled for February 4-20, 2022.
The WHO, on November 27, named the new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, which has been detected in South Africa, as ‘Omicron’.
The World Health Organization has warned the Omicron variant, which has already been confirmed in Europe, Canada, Israel and Hong Kong, maybe more transmissible or evade immunity from previous infections and vaccines.
“Given mutations that may confer immune escape potential and possibly transmissibility advantage, the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron at the global level is high,” the WHO said in its risk assessment on Monday within a technical brief to its 194 member states.
The WHO urged member states to enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand variants, including omicron, and to increase community testing to detect if omicron is circulating.

Six Tibetan rights groups organize protest in Paris against Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

Paris [France]: Six Tibetan community associations including Students for Free Tibet (SFT); Tibetan Youth Congress, France; U-Tsang Association, France; Chushi Gangdruk; Domey Association, France; and Tibetan Community Association, jointly organized a protest demonstration in Paris on November 20 to campaign against the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
The main speaker at the demonstration was Dhondup Wangchen, a Tibetan filmmaker and a former political prisoner, who is on a 22 country tour to request politicians, journalists and the citizens to boycott the 2022 Beijing Olympic games. During the speech, he narrated his own experience as a political prisoner in China and the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibet. During his tour, Wangchen will be recording video messages from people around the world and submitting the same to International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the end of his tour.
Wangchen arrived in Paris on Wednesday where he was received by the President of Tibetan Community, SFT and the other Tibetan Associations at Gare du Nord railways station, reported the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).
During his Paris visit, Wangchen is scheduled to have separate meetings with Francois Vauglin, Mayor of Paris 11, Jean-Luc Romero-Michel, Deputy Mayor of Paris, Raphael Glucksmann, European Member of Parliament, and senators and deputies of the Tibet support.
SFT France will be coordinating Wangchen’s Paris tour between November 18 and 23, 2021. As per the scheduled programme, he will meet journalists, politicians, and individuals to narrate his personal experience of the suffering of Chinese prisoners and the suffering of Tibetan people inside Tibet in the aftermath of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, hoping that his narrative and emotional experience will bring Tibet to the forefronts at the 2022 Beijing Olympic games, reported CTA.
Although, the Chinese government has won the right to host the 2008 Olympics with pledges to improve its human rights performance in line with Olympic ideals. However, the promises were never met, rather the human rights situation continued to deteriorate in Tibet.
He will also be telecasting his film “Leaving Fear Behind” to the Tibetan people and narrating the experience and suffering he underwent making this film.
He will be recording video statements from individuals, journalists, politicians and others during his tour. The videos will be later compiled and handed over to the International Olympic Committee at the end of this tour, reported CTA.

Tibetans say China’s climate action plan hurts livelihoods, rights of countrymen

Lhasa [Tibet], November 2: Tibetans have said that China is trying to strip them off their lands under the garb of climate mitigation efforts thus jeopardising the basic rights and livelihoods of the countrymen.
Citing locals, Tibet Press reported that they were forced to give up ownership of their land as well as stopped from using grazing fields. They said that Beijing has started revoking land permits and confiscating farmlands and grazing grounds under the Grassland Preservation Policy. Water resources from Tibet take care of China’s water needs, which have caused Beijing to declare grasslands as national parks.
All this has disrupted the lives and the livelihoods of Tibetan people, according to the media outlet.
Tibet is a part of the Third Pole- Earths’ largest store of glaciers, ice and permafrost. Thus urbanisation and disrupting the traditional likelihoods in Tibet are going to have huge negative COP26 Summit in Glasgow.
According to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), China was punishing Tibetans in the name of climate action and reducing carbon emissions. China is relocating and resettling nomadic pastoralists from highlands to urban areas, which can lead to loss of land tenure security, food security and a host of other collective rights, it said, Tibet Press reported.
China’s programme to address climate change involved restructuring Tibetan’s way of life even as allowing an intensive, industrial, market-based economy in other parts of the country, TCHRD said.
Chinese troops occupied Tibet in 1950 and later annexed it. The 1959 Tibetan uprising saw violent clashes between Tibetan residents and Chinese forces.
The 14th Dalai Lama fled to neighbouring India after the failed uprising against Chinese rule. The Dalai Lama, the supreme Tibetan Buddhist leader, established a government-in-exile in India.

Threat from Beijing is growing ‘every day’, says Taiwan’s President

Taipei [Taiwan]: Amid the rising tensions between the United States and China, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday (local time) said that the threat from Beijing is growing “every day,” and confirmed the presence of American troops on Taiwanese soil for training purposes.
In an interview with CNN, Tsai said Taiwan, which is located fewer than 200 kilometers (124 miles) away from China’s southeastern coast, was a “beacon” of democracy that needed to be defended to uphold faith worldwide in democratic values. Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan despite the island’s self-governance for over seven decades. Meanwhile, Taipei continues to counter the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US.
“Here is this island of 23 million people trying hard every day to protect ourselves and protect our democracy and making sure that our people have the kind of freedom they deserve,” she said.
“If we fail, then that means people that believe in these values would doubt whether these are values that they (should) be fighting for.”
Taiwan and mainland China have been separately governed since the Nationalists retreated to Taiwan at the end of the Chinese civil war more than 70 years ago. Taiwan is now a flourishing democracy but the mainland’s ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continues to view the island as an inseparable part of its territory — despite having never controlled it, CNN reported.
Today, relations between Taipei and Beijing are at their lowest point in decades. Earlier this month, China’s military sent a record number of warplanes into the air around Taiwan while diplomats and state-run media warned of a possible invasion unless the island toes the CCP line.
According to CNN, Tsai became the first Taiwan President in decades to acknowledge the presence of US troops on the island for training purposes. The last official US garrison left in 1979, the year Washington switched formal diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, though last year media reports hinted at small deployments.
Tsai wouldn’t say exactly how many US military personnel are on the island at present but said it was “not as many as people thought.” “We have a wide range of cooperation with the US aiming at increasing our defense capability,” she said.
Earlier in a major speech on 8 October, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged “peaceful reunification” between Taiwan and the mainland. Although he made no mention of an invasion in the speech, Xi has previously refused to rule out military action.
Meanwhile, on Taiwan’s National Day on 10 October, in response to growing Chinese military action, Tsai said Taiwan could not be forced to follow “the path China had laid out for it.”
Speaking to CNN, Tsai also called on regional democratic partners, including Japan, South Korea and Australia, to help support the island.

Beijing tightens curbs on inbound travel as COVID-19 cases surge

Beijing [China]: Amid the renewed surge of COVID-19 cases in China, Beijing is set to tighten its management and control on personnel entering the capital city.
Beijing on Sunday reported five more confirmed infections and one silent carrier amid pressure from both external import and internal resurgences of COVID-19, English-language Chinese newspaper Global Times reported. Six COVID-19 infections are related to recent flare-ups in other provinces, the report added.
Earlier today, the National Health Commission of China anticipated the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases that resurged in the country lately.
The state media reports said that the latest surge in the cases has been triggered by the Delta variant. Most of the infections that spread in nearly 11 provinces since October 17 have been found to be due to cross-region tourism activities.
Deputy Director of the NHC, Wu Liangyou said that the epidemiological investigations of the infections, discovered 106 out of 133 infections to be from tourism-related activities.
According to the newspaper, the official said that the increase in the number of cases is going to increase as the screening continues.
The official also urged the public to take the booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccines to reduce the risks of the resurgence of the cases, reported Global Times.
Meanwhile, Gansu, China’s Northwest province, has announced the suspension of all tourism activities after a surge in the COVID-19 cases in the region, reported local media.
All tourists in Lanzhou — where most COVID-19 cases in the province were reported — required to stay in wherever place they were and be quarantined, said Global Times.
Gansu registered — from October 18 to Saturday night — a total of 41 confirmed cases, of which 30 are from Lanzhou, seven from Zhangye, two from Jiayu Pass, one from Tianshui, and one from Longnan.

Winter Olympics flame on its way from Rome to Beijing

Athens [Greece]: The Olympic flame for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 is on its way to Beijing.
During a ceremony in the historic Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Tuesday, it was handed over by the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) to the organisers of the next Games. The ceremony, which took place 24 hours after the lighting of the flame in Ancient Olympia near the Temple of Hera, was attended by International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice-Presidents Ser Miang Ng and Nicole Hoevertsz; the IOC’s Beijing 2022 Coordination Commission Chair, Juan Antonio Samaranch; and IOC Honorary Member Sam Ramsamy.
The Chinese delegation was led by IOC Vice-President, Special Representative and Vice-President of Beijing 2022 and Vice-President of the Chinese Olympic Committee Zaiqing Yu. The ceremony was hosted by Hellenic Olympic Committee President and IOC member Spyros Capralos.
Due to the COVID-19 countermeasures, the ceremony was held under strict conditions, with only a limited delegation and no spectators present. In addition, the traditional torch relay through Greece could not take place.
The Greek priestesses entered the arena and watched on as Greece’s Evi Moraitidou, a silver medallist at the Athens Olympics in 2004 in water polo, brought the flame into the stadium.
Li Nina, Olympic silver medallist in freestyle skiing in both 2006 and 2010, from China, then continued the lap of the historic track, before handing the torch to Paraskevi Ladopoulou, a cross-country and biathlon athlete from Greece, who will compete in Beijing 2022 in cross-country, to light a cauldron.
Beijing will write history as the first city to hold both editions of the Olympic Games, winter and summer. The Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 aim to connect the Chinese people with the world, bringing to life China’s vision to engage 300 million people with sport on snow and ice.
“This unique flame will convey a message of peace and friendship. But it will also carry with it the respect and goodwill of the Greeks towards the Chinese people. Two nations that count thousands of years of history and close relations” said Spyros Capralos in an official IOC release.
“Yesterday, the Olympic flame spent the night on the Acropolis, the ultimate symbol of Greece, but also of culture and democracy worldwide. From here, it sent its powerful radiance to the 206 NOCs – members of the International Olympic Committee,” he added.
A welcome ceremony for the flame will be held in Beijing on Wednesday, with the flame initially going on display to the public at the Beijing Olympic Tower before setting off on a flame exhibition tour.
Closer to the Games, a traditional Olympic Torch Relay will be held. More information will be announced by the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee after the arrival ceremony.
Around 2,900 athletes, representing approximately 85 National Olympic Committees, will compete in what will be the most gender-balanced Olympic Winter Games in history, between 4 and 20 February 2022.

IOC Executive Board make decisions relating to Beijing 2022 in Greece

Athens [Greece]: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board (EB) on Saturday met in Athens, Greece, ahead of the flame-lighting ceremony for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Monday, October 18.
The IOC EB made decisions relating to the Beijing 2022 Games and received updates on the preparations. The IOC Executive Board decided to approve the change of nationality for one athlete in view of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. Jack Gower – Alpine Skiing – has changed his nationality from Great Britain to Ireland. The IOC EB granted the requested exemption to the three-year waiting period, with the prior agreement from the International Federation (IF) and National Olympic Committees concerned, in accordance with Bye-law 2 to Rule 41 of the Olympic Charter.
With the lighting of the Olympic flame for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 to take place on Monday, a brief update was provided to the IOC EB on the progress of preparations for these Games. This focused on the positive feedback from IFs and athletes about the ongoing test events involving international athletes that are taking place in the Beijing 2022 competition venues.
So far this autumn, the venues for 2022 have hosted a Bobsleigh and Skeleton International Training Period, the Speed Skating China Open, the 2021 Asian Open Figure Skating Trophy and a national test of the Ice Cube curling venue. These events form part of the 10 international competitions, three international training weeks and two domestic test activities that will be organised in eight competition venues across all three Beijing 2022 competition zones – Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou – before the end of the year.
Speaking after the EB meeting, IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell said about the IBSF training period that is happening in Beijing: “It’s really pleasing to see the feedback we’ve had from the international athletes. A lot of these athletes are Olympians; many of them are obviously competing on the international circuit; and the feedback that we’ve had is unanimously positive regarding the venue itself, the sliding centre, but also the organisation around the Games and their excitement as they build up to participating in Beijing 2022.”

Chinese women blame Beijing of ‘using female bodies’ for population control

Women in China have accused the government of the country of using female bodies to control the population in China.

Beijing [China] October 11 : When the Xi Jinping-led government had planned to reduce the population, the authorities forced abortions on women. And now, when the population growth has slowed down, they say no to abortions, Author Fabien Baussart said in The Times of Israel. Chinese women had also taken this to social media when a top comment on the Chinese app ‘Weibo’ read that the female body has become a ‘tool’. When (the state) wants you to bear a child, you must do it at all cost. When (the state) doesn’t want it, you’re not allowed to give birth even at the risk of death, Author Baussart said.
There is a feeling of anger among the people of China ever since Beijing has introduced a policy to reduce the rate of abortions in the country as part of the government’s efforts to ‘improve women’s health’.
China’s population measures which began with the ‘one child policy’ in 1979, has always been abusive and coercive to the people.
There are cases of thousands of women either dying or contracting severe medical conditions. It is estimated that the Chinese government “prevented” over 400 million births were “prevented”, The Times of Israel reported.
This draconian policy ended in 2015 when the ‘two child policy’ was bought in by China, putting the ‘forced-abortion ‘ to an end.
However, the new policy has also miserably failed as Chinese parents found it tough to run families on thin salaries and proffered to have a single child.
Five years later, this May, the Chinese government introduced the three-child policy allowing people to produce up to three children because Beijing wanted faster population growth in the country now, The Times of Israel reported.
These steps have been taken, keeping in view the 2020 national census in China which revealed that the population between the age group of 16 and 59 (working group) has reduced by 40 million people since 2010.
“The case of abortions in China is curiouser. For many decades, it was the Chinese government literally deciding how many women should have abortions. Now it is going to decide how many women should not have abortions,” Author Baussart said in the article.
And now, after the three-child policy, Beijing will also decide how many women should not have abortions.

Beijing 2022 Winter Games reveals official motto: “Together for a Shared Future”

Beijing [China]: The official motto of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 was revealed as “Together for a Shared Future” at a ceremony held in the city’s Capital Museum on Friday.
The Organising Committee explained that the motto represents the power of the Games to overcome global challenges as a community, with a shared future for humankind. The words reflect the necessity for the world to work together towards a better tomorrow, especially given the difficulties faced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking about the motto, Chen Ning, Director General of the Culture and Ceremonies Department of Beijing 2022, said, as per “‘Together for a Shared Future’ reflects Beijing 2022’s contribution to the Olympic spirit and the contribution of Beijing as the first ever dual Olympic and Paralympic city. On the basis of the Beijing 2008 Games slogan, ‘One World, One Dream’, it not only embodies the concept of sharing, but also grasps the current pulse of the global pandemic and reflects the common aspirations of all countries in the world to join together for a better future.”
Beijing 2022 will use this motto throughout the build-up to and during the Games, with the world’s top winter athletes due to compete in China between February 4 and 20 (Olympic Winter Games) and March 4 and 13 (Paralympic Winter Games).
Preparations for the Games continue to advance. All the competition venues were completed by the end of 2020 as scheduled, while during 2021 construction of all the non-competition venues will be finished on time.

Toshiba to shift 30-year old production unit out of China amid ‘reducing profits’

Amid Japan’s ongoing tussle with Beijing, tech giant Toshiba will shift its 30-year old production unit from the Dalian city of China to Vietnam or Japan.

Beijing [China] September 12 : The plant is Toshiba’s first-ever production unit in China that employs roughly 650 people, makes industrial motors and broadcast transmitters. But the production unit found itself on the chopping block due to a steep drop in production and decided to shutter it down by the end of this month, Nikkei Asia reported. The operators informed that they will initiate the liquidation process of this production unit as soon as October and the capacity will be shifted to Vietnam and Japan.
The move came amid the ongoing tussle between Beijing and Tokyo over China’s growing clout in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea over the past few months, partly in response to Beijing’s concerns over the increasing US military presence in the region because of escalating Sino-US tensions.
Meanwhile, Beijing also claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Earlier, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had also aired a video in which it threatened Tokyo with a nuclear response and “full-scale war” if it interfered in China’s handling of Taiwan.

Chinese legislature approves amendments on third child policy: Reports

Beijing [China], August 20 : The Chinese National People’s Congress (NPC) on Friday voted to approve amendments to the Population and Family Planning Law allowing couples to have a third child, the Xinhua news agency reported.
The draft amendment was submitted on Tuesday to the session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee for review. The law provides that each Chinese couple will be allowed to have three children. It also proposes a slew of supportive measures for parents in terms of taxation, insurance, education, housing and employment. In July, the Chinese State Council announced that it had decided to lift all restrictions on the birth of a third child, including fines for the policy violation. The changes are expected to result in a “stable long-term population development” and more balanced population structure by 2035.
The 2020 Chinese population census estimated the median age at 38.8 years. The country has registered a growing share of people aged over 60 years against a decreasing birthrate.
The gender balance of the Chinese population was seriously affected by the “one-child” policy, introduced in 1979 in order to prevent overpopulation and famine. Under this policy, urban families had a right to have only one child, while rural families could have two children, but only if the first one was a girl. The government canceled the policy in 2015, permitting all families to have two children, but the share of Chinese men still outnumbers women 105 to 100.

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