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Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong quits pro-democracy group as China passes security law – National



Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong said on Tuesday he is stepping down as leader of his democracy group Demosisto, just hours after local media reported that Beijing had passed national security legislation for the Chinese-ruled city.

Read more:
Chinese lawmakers pass controversial security law for Hong Kong: reports

Wong has said he will be a “prime target” of Beijing’s national security law, which critics fear will crush freedoms in the former British colony.

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“If my voice will not be heard soon, I hope that the international community will continue to speak up for Hong Kong and step up concrete efforts to defend out last bit of freedom,” Wong wrote in a tweet.

-With a file from Global News








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Galwan Valley: Satellite images ‘show China structures’ on India border


A satellite image shows close up view of road construction near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) border in the eastern Ladakh sector of Galwan Valley, 22 June, 2020.Image copyright
Maxar Technologies/Reuters

Image caption

New satellite images show the area near Patrol Point 14 where a clash between Indian and Chinese forces took place on 15 June.

China has built new structures near the site of a Himalayan border clash that left 20 Indian troops dead earlier this month, fresh satellite images suggest.

Bunkers, tents and storage units for military hardware are visible in an area where last month there were none.

Fighting between the nuclear-armed powers over their disputed frontier has prompted alarm. Chinese casualties were also reported but not confirmed.

The latest images were published as the sides hold talks to defuse tensions.

The fresh satellite images, dated 22 June, are from space technology company Maxar. The structures which appear to have been built by China overlooking the Galwan River were not visible in aerial photographs earlier in June, Reuters reported.

Neither India nor China has commented.

The clash in the Galwan Valley, in the disputed Himalayan territory of Ladakh, took place on 15 June, weeks after high-level military commanders from both nations agreed to “peacefully resolve the situation in the border areas in accordance with various bilateral agreements.”

Since the clash, and amid spiralling rhetoric, the two nations have tried to publicly calm tensions.

A statement released by the India’s foreign ministry on Wednesday said that India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and the Chinese Foreign Minister HE Wang Yi “reaffirmed that both sides should sincerely implement the understanding on disengagement and de-escalation that was reached by the senior commanders on 6 June”.

What do the images show?

Ajai Shukla, a leading Indian defence analyst, tweeted that “there is a large Chinese camp in the Galwan Valley, 1.5km into the Indian side of the LAC [Line of Actual Control]”.

Local media have also quoted sources in the Indian army as saying that the additional build-up by China seemed to have taken place between the 15 June clash and commander-level talks prior to that.

Satellite imagery from May shows no structures in the disputed area near where the clashes took place.

Former Indian diplomat P Stobdan, an expert in Ladakh affairs, told the BBC the construction was “worrying”.

“The [Indian] government has not released any pictures or made a statement, so it’s hard to assess. But the images released by private firms show that the Chinese have built infrastructure and have not retreated,” he said.

Image copyright
Maxar Technologies/Reuters

Image caption

The images suggest Chinese construction in the Galwan Valley came after talks between army commanders

The situation in the region is described as still “very tense”.

Meanwhile, India’s Army Chief Gen MM Naravane is scheduled to visit a forward location along the border on Thursday. He visited other forward areas on Wednesday and reviewed operational preparedness, the army said.

What happened in the Galwan Valley?

Media reports said troops clashed on ridges at a height of nearly 4,300m (14,000 ft) on steep terrain, with some Indian soldiers falling into the fast-flowing Galwan river in sub-zero temperatures.

At least 76 Indian soldiers were reportedly injured in addition to the 20 dead. China has not released any information about Chinese casualties.

The fighting took place without any firearms because of a 1996 agreement barring guns and explosives from the area.

Image copyright
Maxar Technologies/Reuters

Image caption

An image from May shows no structures in the area overlooking the Galwan River

How tense is the area?

The Line of Actual Control, as the disputed border between the two nations is known, is poorly demarcated. The presence of rivers, lakes and snowcaps means the line can shift.

The soldiers on either side – representing two of the world’s largest armies – come face to face at many points. India has accused China of sending thousands of troops into Ladakh’s Galwan valley and says China occupies 38,000sq km (14,700sq miles) of its territory. Several rounds of talks in the last three decades have failed to resolve the boundary disputes.

The two countries have fought only one war so far, in 1962, when India suffered a humiliating defeat.

In May, dozens of Indian and Chinese soldiers exchanged physical blows on the border in the north-eastern state of Sikkim. And in 2017, the two countries clashed in the region after China tried to extend a border road through a disputed plateau, Doklam.

Tensions have also risen over a road built by India in Ladakh.

There are several reasons why tensions are rising now – but competing strategic goals lie at the root, and both sides blame each other.

India’s new road in what experts say is the most remote and vulnerable area along the LAC in Ladakh. The road could boost Delhi’s capability to move men and materiel rapidly in case of a conflict.

Analysts say India’s decision to ramp up infrastructure seems to have infuriated Beijing.



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China news: Beijing denies 40 soldiers died in fierce Indian border clash | World | News


China has sought to dismiss those figures. This is despite officials from both countries talking to help resolve tensions. Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “I can tell you responsibly that it is false information.”

Mr Zhao did confirm the meetings between officials.

He explained: “The meeting indicated that China and India are willing to appropriately handle the disputes through dialogue, manage the situations and lower tensions.

“We also agreed to continue the dialogue and work together to promote peace and stability in the border areas.”

Indian media reported the meeting lasted 10 hours by video conference.

There were suggestions it was attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

Mr Lavrov told Associated Press: “We never had a goal to help India and China develop their bilateral ties.

“India and China have every opportunity to tackle and solve any problems in relations between them.”

Some reports claim Mr Jaishankar did not mention the border conflict.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson urged to prioritise a trade deal with the US

Media reports last week saw troops clashed at heights of 14,000ft.

Some reports suggest soldiers feel into the fast-moving Galwan River at subzero temperatures.

At least 76 Indian soldiers were injured, in addition to 20 dead.

A 1996 agreement barred guns and explosives from the disputed area.

A weapon passed to the BBC by an Indian officer claims to be a Chinese used iron rod covered in nails.

The two sides went to war in 1962.

The war lasted little over a month and resulted in a Chinese victory.

Skirmishes have broken out between the two since.

Donald Trump has offered to mediate the current tensions: “They have got a big problem there. They have come to blows and we’ll see what happens. We are trying to help them out.”





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Canada has power to end Meng extradition, bring Canadians home from China, Kovrig’s wife says


Article content continued

Since January, China has prevented Canadian diplomats from visiting Kovrig and Spavor, citing COVID-19 restrictions.

Trudeau rejected suggestions that Canada should intervene to resolve the Meng case in an attempt to free Kovrig and Spavor.

“We continue to stand up both for the independence of our judicial system and Canadian interests and values,” the prime minister said. “We work behind the scenes and in public to ensure that everyone understands we will continue to work extremely hard to get these Canadians home.”

Garnett Genuis, the Conservative critic on Canada-China Relations, was critical of former Liberal cabinet minister John Manley and Eddie Goldenberg, a former aide to ex-prime minister Jean Chrétien, for advocating for a prisoner exchange to free Kovrig and Spavor.

“Conservatives continue to call on Justin Trudeau to respect the independence of Canada’s judicial system and reject this position by senior Liberal insiders,” said Genuis.

Meng, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, is living in a luxury Vancouver home while her extradition case wends its way through a British Columbia court.

The United States wants to prosecute Meng for fraud, alleging she lied to banks about her company’s connections with Iran, which could possibly violate U.S. sanctions.



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Trump plans to sign bill pressuring China over Uighur Muslim crackdown -source


WASHINGTON, June 8 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump plans to sign legislation calling for sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for oppression of Uighur Muslims, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday without offering a time frame for the signing.

The bill, which passed the U.S. House and Senate with bipartisan support last month, calls for sanctions against those responsible for repression of Uighurs and other Muslim groups in China’s Xinjiang province, where the United Nations estimates that more than a million Muslims have been detained in camps.

The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by Alexandra Alper, Editing by Franklin Paul)



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China accused of hiding coronavirus data from WHO: Live updates | News


  • At least two US senators have accused China of hiding data from the World Health Organization that could have altered the course of the coronavirus outbreak, even as a Chinese official denied delays in sharing information and said the government acted openly and transparently.

  • The malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine – which President Donald Trump took to try to prevent COVID-19, proved ineffective for that purpose in the first large, high-quality study to test it in people in close contact with someone with the disease, according to a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

  • Spanish legislators have voted to extend the state of emergency a final time through to June 21. It is the sixth time the measure has been renewed, meaning the restrictions will remain in force, although they have been eased since the start of the lockdown in mid-March.

  • Around 6.4 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 383,000 people have died, including some 107,000 in the US. More than 2.7 million have recovered from the disease.

Here are the latest updates:

Thursday, June 4

01:03 GMT – 9-month-old among new fatalities of coronavirus in US

A 9-month-old who tested positive for COVID-19 was among eight more people whose deaths were related to the coronavirus in the US state of Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear has announced.

The latest deaths raised the statewide death toll to 450 since the pandemic began. There are more than 107,000 fatalities across the US.

In announcing the infant’s death, Beshear said: “Far too often, people think that it’s something that only happens to medically compromised seniors. This is a reminder of how deadly this virus can be. How precious all of our lives are.”

00:20 GMT – China reports new COVID-19 cases

Coronavirus - China

Students wearing masks to curb the spread the new coronavirus leave after the end of a school day in Beijing on Wednesday [Ng Han Guan/AP]

China reported on Thursday one new coronavirus case and four new asymptomatic COVID-19 cases as of the end of June 3, according to Reuters news agency quoting the health commission.

The National Health Commission said all five of the cases were imported, involving travellers from overseas. For June 2, China reported one confirmed case and 4 asymptomatic cases.

China does not count asymptomatic patients, those who are infected with the coronavirus but do not exhibit symptoms, as confirmed cases. The total number of infections in China stands at 83,022. The death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

00:05 GMT – Report raises coronavirus concerns about China, WHO; Beijing denies

At least two US senators said that China hid data from the World Health Organization (WHO) that could have altered the course of the coronavirus outbreak, even as a Chinese official denied delays in sharing information and said the government acted openly and transparently.

They were referring to an Associated Press investigation published this week that found China stalled on providing critical coronavirus information to WHO, which expressed considerable frustration in private even as it praised the country in public. Politicians said the report raised key questions, and public health experts said it shed light on a story that has become highly politicised.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called the AP report “seriously inconsistent with the facts”. He read off a timeline of events that did not contradict the AP’s findings and added that China had always maintained “close and good communication and cooperation with WHO.”

00:01 GMT – Malaria drug fails to prevent COVID-19 in a rigorous study

A malaria drug US President Donald Trump took to try to prevent COVID-19 proved ineffective in the first large, high-quality study to test it in people in close contact with someone with the disease, AP news agency reported.

Results published by the New England Journal of Medicine show that hydroxychloroquine was no better than placebo pills at preventing illness from the coronavirus. The drug did not seem to cause serious harm, though – about 40 percent on it had side effects, mostly mild stomach problems.

“We were disappointed. We would have liked for this to work,” said the study leader, Dr David Boulware, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Minnesota. “But our objective was to answer the question and to conduct a high-quality study,” because the evidence on the drug so far has been inconclusive, he said.

____________________________________________________________________

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Read all the updates from yesterday (June 3) here.


SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies



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The Real Danger in a Quiet Escalation of Tensions Between China and India


This expert-driven national-security insight can’t be generated for free.  We invite you to support quality content by becoming a  Cipher Brief Level I Member .  Joining this experienced security-focused community is only $10/month (for an annual $120/yr membership). It’s a great and inexpensive way to stay ahead of the national and global security issues that impact you the most.

 

 

The post The Real Danger in a Quiet Escalation of Tensions Between China and India appeared first on The Cipher Brief.



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#Russia vs #China – EU Reporter : EU Reporter


Co-operation between Russia and China has deep historical roots, and its earliest manifestations can be found already during the Chinese civil war. It seems that both countries should be most united by their communist ideology, but the ambitions of their leaders and the willingness to be the first and the most powerful was in fact the dominating force. Relations between these nations have seen times of flourishing, as well as times of military conflict, writes Zintis Znotiņš.

The relationship between both countries are currently presented as friendly, but it is difficult to call them truly friendly. Even in the past, relations between the USSR and China were based on each nation’s calculations and attempts to play the leading role, and it doesn’t seem like something has changed at the present, although China has become a “smarter” and resource-wise richer player than Russia.

We will now look at the “similarities” between China and Russia, the ways they are cooperating and future prospects for both of them.

Russia is a semi-presidential federative republic, while China is a socialist nation ruled by the secretary general of its Communist Party.

Already we can see formal differences, but if we dive deeper both countries essentially feel like Siamese twins. There are more than one party in Russia, but only one party decides everything that takes places in the country – United Russia. Russia isn’t even attempting to hide the aim of establishing the said party, which is to support the course taken by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

China, too, has nine parties1, but only one of them is allowed to rule and it is the Communist Party of China which answers to the secretary general who is also the president of the state.

Therefore, there is a single ruling party both in Russia and China, and this party is responsible for implementing and executing whatever the president wishes, meaning that both countries are ruled by a rather narrow circle of people. Forecasting election results in Russia and China is as difficult as being able to tell that the day after Monday is Tuesday. To write this piece, I spent a lot of time reading about the history of China and Russia and the current events taking place in these countries, and for this reason I figured that we also have to look at the meaning of the word “totalitarianism”.

Totalitarianism is a political system in which a country is governed without the participation of its people and decisions are made without the agreement of the majority of the people; in a totalitarian regime the most important social, economic and political affairs are controlled by the state. It is a type of dictatorship where the regime restricts its people in all of the imaginable aspects of life.

Notable characteristics:

Power is held by a small group of people – a clique;

Opposition is suppressed and general terror is a tool for governing the state;

All aspects of life are subordinate to the interests of the state and the dominating ideology;

The public is mobilized using a personality cult of the leader, mass movements, propaganda and other similar means;

Aggressive and expansionist foreign policy;

Total control over public life.2

Are China and Russia truly totalitarian states? Formally, no, but if we look at the essence of it we see a completely different picture. We will look at all of the signs of totalitarianism in China and Russia, but we will not delve too deep into events and occurrences that most of us are already familiar with.

Can we say that the majority of Russian and Chinese citizens are engaged in decision making? Formally, sort of, because elections do take place in these countries, but can we really call them “elections”? It would be impossible to list all the video footage or articles that reveal how polling stations operate in order to provide the required election results. Therefore, we can say that the general public is involved in making decisions, it’s just that the results are always determined by those in power.

The last paragraph brings us to the first point: power is held by a small group of people – a clique. Both nations are ruled by presidents who appoint whoever they wish and dismiss whoever they wish. This is power held by a small group of people. The next point – suppressing the opposition and using general terror to govern the state. Media outlets have written enough about suppressing the opposition in both countries, and everyone has seen at least a video or two on this topic. To stop their political opponents and any events organized by them Russia and China use not only their police forces, but the army as well. From time to time, information appears that an opposition activist has been murdered in either of the countries, and these murders are never solved.

We will not even begin talking about criminal cases and administrative arrests of opposition activists. We can say that the point in question is completely true. Regarding all of the aspects of life being subordinate to the state and ideology – is there anyone who isn’t convinced by this? If Russia is engaged in restricting and “teaching” its citizens quite inconspicuously, China has no time for ceremony – the Communist Party of China has published new guidelines on improving the “moral quality” of its citizens, and this touches upon all of the imaginable aspects of one’s private life – from organizing wedding ceremonies to dressing appropriately.3 Is the public in Russia and China mobilized using the cult of personality, mass movements, propaganda and other means? We can look at 9 May celebrations in Russia and all of the surrounding rhetoric, and the events dedicated to the anniversary of founding the People’s Republic of China. I’m sorry, but it feels like I’m watching some Stalin and Hitler era montage but in a more modern fashion, and instead of Stalin and Hitler there are some new faces. What is left? Of course, aggressive and expansionist foreign policy. China has been very active in the South China Sea for many years now, which has aggravated tensions among the armed forces of its neighbours – Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

China is continuing to physically seize, artificially build and arm islands far from its shores. And in the recent years China has been particularly aggressive towards Taiwan, which the regime sees as being rightfully theirs.4 China is also willing to impose sanctions against those nations who intend to sell arms to Taiwan.

However, when it comes to armed aggression China pales in comparison to Russia, which isn’t shy to use armed aggression against its close and far neighbors in order to reach its goals. Russia’s aggression goes hand in hand with its nihilism. I am sure I don’t have to remind you about the events in Georgia, Ukraine and previously in Chechnya as well. Russia will use every opportunity to show everyone its great weaponry, and this also includes directly or covertly engaging in different military conflicts.

Maybe some of you will disagree, but as I see it China and Russia currently are totalitarian states in their essence.

History has shown us that up to a certain point even two totalitarian countries are able to cooperate. Let’s remember the “friendship” between Nazi Germany and the USSR, but let’s also not forget what this friendship resulted in.

It is also true that the economic sanctions imposed against Russia have pushed it to be more friendly with China, but it seems that China will come out as the winner of this relationship.

According to data from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, in 2018 the Chinese economy received 56.6 million USD in direct investments from Russia (+ 137.4%), meaning that by the end of 2018 the amount of direct investments from Russia reached 1,066.9 million USD.

In 2018, the Russian economy received 720 million USD in direct investments from China, resulting in a total of 10,960 million USD in direct investments from China by the end of 2018.

The main spheres of Chinese investments in Russia are energy, agriculture and forestry, construction and construction materials, trade, light industry, textiles, household electric goods, services, etc.

The main spheres of Russian investments in China are production, construction and transportation.We can see from the amount of investments that in this “friendship” China has far exceeded Russia. We also cannot ignore the fact that China has launched more large-scale investment projects in other nations than Russia has.

It should be noted that China’s procurement of military equipment has allowed Russian armaments programs to exist. Russia sold modern armaments to China, despite the concerns that China will be able to “copy” the received armaments and then improve them. But the need for money was much greater to worry about such things. As a result, in early 2020 it was concluded that China has surpassed Russia in producing and selling armaments.6

If we look at the ways Russia and China are attempting to shape public opinion in the long term, we can see some differences. Russia tries to do this using publications, demonstrative activities and attempts for its compatriots to become citizens of their country of residence while maintaining their cultural identity in order to establish an intellectual, economic and spiritually-cultural resource in global politics.7 China, in addition to all of this, has established Confucius Institutes that are subordinate to the Chinese Ministry of Education. There are a total of 5,418 Confucius Institutes or classes around the world. These institutes, named after the most known Chinese philosopher, have drawn sharp criticism globally for its foreign policy views – ones that avoid discussing human rights or believe that Taiwan or Tibet are inseparable parts of China. These institutes have been accused of espionage and restricting academic freedom.

“The Confucius Institutes are an attractive brand for our culture to spread abroad,” representative of the Communist Party’s Politburo Li Changchun said in 2011. “They have always been an important investment in expanding our soft power. The brand name “Confucius” is quite attractive. By using language tuition as a cover, everything looks logical and acceptable from the outside.” The leadership of the Communist Party calls these institutes a crucial part of its propaganda toolset abroad, and it is estimated that over the past 12 years China has spent roughly two billion USD on them. The constitution of these institutes9 stipulates that their leadership, personnel, guidelines, tuition materials and most of their funding is ensured by the Hanban institution which is under the Chinese Ministry of Education.10

Both Russian and Chinese citizens either buy or rent property abroad. Russians do this so they have somewhere to go in case the necessity arises.

Chinese citizens and companies slowly rent or purchase large swathes of land in in the Russian Far East. There is no precise estimate of the amount of land handed over to the Chinese, but it is said it could range between 1–1.5 billion hectares.11

What can we conclude from all of this? China and Russia are, in essence, totalitarian states with bloated ambitions. If Russia tries to reach its ambitions in an openly aggressive and shameless manner, then China is doing the same with caution and thought. If Russia often uses military means to reach its goals, China will most likely use financial ones. If Russia attempts to fulfill its ambitions arrogantly, then China achieves the same result with seeming kindness and humility.

Which country has gotten closer to its goal? I believe it is definitely not Russia. In addition, just as the USSR, Russia too believes it is better than China. But for those observing from the sidelines, it is evident that in many areas China has far succeeded Russia and is now even acquiring Russian land.

This brings us back to history – what happens when two totalitarian states share a border? One of them eventually disappears. For now, it seems that China has done everything in its power to stay on the world map.

1 https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A1%D0%BF%D0%B8%D1%81%D0%BE%D0%BA_%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%B8%D1%82%D0%B8%D1%87%D0%B5%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B8%D1%85_%D0%BF%D0%B0%D1%80%D1%82%D0%B8%D0%B9_%D0%9A%D0%9D%D0%A0

2 https://lv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totalit%C4%81risms

3 https://www.la.lv/komunistiska-kina-publice-vadlinijas-pilsonu-moralas-kvalitates-uzlabosanai

4 https://www.delfi.lv/news/arzemes/devini-konflikti-kas-apdraud-pasauli-2019-gada.d?id=50691613&page=4

5 http://www.russchinatrade.ru/ru/ru-cn-cooperation/investment

6 http://www.ng.ru/economics/2020-01-27/4_7778_weapon.html

7 https://www.tvnet.lv/5684274/krievijas-am-tautiesiem-arzemes-jaklust-par-pilntiesigiem-mitnes-valstu-pilsoniem

8 http://english.hanban.org/node_10971.htm

9 http://english.hanban.org/node_7880.htm

10 https://rebaltica.lv/2019/08/kinas-maigas-varas-rupja-seja/

11 https://www.sibreal.org/a/29278233.html

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone, and do not reflect EU Reporter‘s political position.

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China reports two new coronavirus cases: Live updates | China News


  • The United States government was slow to understand how fast coronavirus was spreading from Europe, which accelerated outbreaks across the country, says Dr Anne Schuchat, the number-two official at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • In Venezuela, more than 40 people died during a riot about coronavirus-related restrictions on family visits, while prisoners at a Brazilian jail held guards hostage for several hours in protest to the suspension of all visits.

  • Worldwide, the number of confirmed infections stands above 3.35 million, with nearly 239,000 deaths and approximately 1.05 million recoveries.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) reiterated the coronavirus is believed to be “natural in origin”, responding to a claim by US President Donald Trump that he had seen evidence that indicated the virus emerged from a virology institute in Wuhan, China.

Here are the latest updates:

Sunday, May 3

06:35 GMT – S Korea to further ease physical distancing rules

South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the country will further relax physical distancing rules starting on May 6.

The government “will allow businesses to resume at facilities in phases that had remained closed up until now, and also allow gatherings and events to take place assuming they follow disinfection guidelines”, he told a televised meeting of government officials.

06:10 GMT – Philippines temporarily bars incoming flights

Incoming passenger flights are barred from entering the Philippines for one week to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“This decision is meant to decongest our quarantine facilities to protect our people by preventing the further spread of COVID-19 and also ensure that our overseas Filipino workers are well taken care of when they arrive from abroad”, officials said in a statement.

Some 20,000 repatriated Filipinos are undergoing mandatory quarantine in the capital, Manila, officials said. Entry to the country is closed to all except repatriated Filipinos.

As of Sunday, the country has reported 8,928 infections and 603 deaths.

05:30 GMT – Thailand reports lowest number of cases, as some restrictions ease

Marking its lowest number since early March, Thailand reported three new coronavirus cases and no new deaths as it started easing restrictions on some business and aspects of life.

The country allowed businesses such as restaurants, hair salons and outdoor markets to reopen as long as physical distancing was maintained and temperature checks carried out.

So far, there have been a total of 2,966 infections and 54 deaths.

Hairdressers wear face shields and masks as they tend to customers at a barbershop in Bangkok on May 3, 2020, after it reopened due to an easing of measures to combat the spread

Hairdressers wear face shields and masks as they tend to customers at a barbershop in Bangkok after it reopened due to an easing of measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 [Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP]

04:51 GMT – World ‘needs a robust airline system for COVID-19 recovery’

Geoffrey Thomas, editor-in-chief of Airline Ratings, has said a lot more needs to be done to assist airlines with their recovery

“Across the globe, we’ve all got to make concessions. This is all costing us money. At the same time, whether we are supporting our local airline or our favourite local restaurant with takeaways – everybody needs help, and the airlines are no different. Because the airlines are losing half of their revenue for 2020, and some of the bailouts are absolutely massive,” he told Al Jazeera.

“In certain jurisdictions, it has been enough. For instance in the Middle East – some of the countries there have stepped up significantly, like Qatar. In other jurisdictions, they haven’t. In Australia, the federal government hasn’t supported its two airlines. So coming out of COVID-19, you’re going to get some airlines that are very well looked after and other ones that are not.”

He added: “A lot more needs to be done because aviation is the fabric of the economy of the world and we need a robust airline system to help with this recovery … Certainly, we want to preserve as many of these airlines as we possibly can for the highly competitive market that we want post-COVID-19.”

03:56 GMT – UK made contingency plan for Johnson’s death as he battled COVID-19

Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, has said the British government made contingency plans for his death as his condition deteriorated while he battled COVID-19 last month in intensive care.

In an interview with The Sun newspaper on Sunday, Johnson said he was given “litres and litres of oxygen” to keep him alive. 

“They had a strategy to deal with a ‘death of Stalin’-type scenario,” Johnson told The Sun. “It was a tough old moment, I won’t deny it.”

03:05 GMT – Roche gets US FDA approval for antibody test

Roche Holding AG said received emergency use approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an antibody test to help determine if people have ever been infected with the coronavirus.

The Swiss drugmaker said its antibody test, Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2, has a specificity greater than 99.8 percent and can help assess patients’ immune response to the new coronavirus, officially known as SARS-Cov-2.

02:36 GMT – South Korea reports 13 new cases 

Health authorities in South Korea reported 13 new coronavirus cases, of which 10 were imported. 

The country reported fewer than 15 cases for more than two weeks, and authorities say they plan to loosen social distancing rules this week. Details of the so-called “everyday life quarantine” are expected later today, according to the official Yonhap news agency. 

02:17 GMT – Rise in virus cases in crowded Indian jails prompts concerns

The spread of the coronavirus in India’s notoriously crowded prisons prompted authorities to impose jail lockdowns and release thousands of pretrial detainees on parole, as health experts worry the cramped facilities are serving as breeding grounds for the disease.

“It is a terrifying situation. If measures aren’t taken soon, then things can become extremely difficult,” Madhurima Dhanuka, head of the Prison Reforms Program for the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, told the Associated Press news agency.

Although there are no official numbers on how many inmates have been infected by the virus, India’s correction facilities are slowly recording more infections and have temporarily banned visitors.

On Thursday, authorities locked down Nagpur Central Jail in coastal Maharashtra, among the Indian states worst hit by the pandemic. It was the eighth prison in Maharashtra to be locked down. The move came after 19 inmates in Indore Central Jail in central Madhya Pradesh state tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

Indian prisons are highly overcrowded. According to the latest data by the National Crimes Record Bureau in 2018, India has some 450,000 prisoners, exceeding the country’s official prison capacity by about 17 percent.

Prisons in New Delhi and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh state have the highest occupancy rates, at more than 50 percent above capacity.

Making matters worse, “the health facilities in prisons are not up to the mark,” said Dhanuka.

02:06 GMT – China reports two new coronavirus cases

China reported two new coronavirus cases for May 2, up from one the day before, according to data from the National Health Commission.

One case was imported and the other is local. This compared with one imported case and no domestic transmissions on May 1. The NHC also reported 12 asymptomatic cases for May 2, down from 20 the day before.

The number of confirmed cases in China has reached 82,877. With no new deaths reported, the death toll remains at 4,633.

01:46 GMT – Hundreds in US state of Oregon protest stay-at-home order

Hundreds opposed to Oregon’s stay-at-home order demonstrated in the city of Salem as health officials announced five additional deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus

Most of the protesters did not wear face masks, but they waved American flags and Trump campaign signs in the rain. Other signs read, “Reopen Oregon” and “Let me earn a living”.

A group of healthcare workers demonstrated at the top of the Capitol steps, urging a phased plan to ease the state’s social distancing requirements. Most of the other protesters ignored them.

Oregon protest

A woman holds a sign saying Open Oregon on the steps of the state capitol at the ReOpen Oregon Rally on May 2, 2020, in Salem, Oregon [Terray Sylvester/Getty Images/AFP]

01:04 GMT – Pelosi, McConnell decline coronavirus tests for US Congress

The top Republican and Democrat in Congress said they are respectfully declining an offer of quick COVID-19 tests offered by the Trump administration.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, normally fierce political rivals, say Congress is “grateful” for the offer, but “wants to keep directing resources to the front-line facilities where they can do the most good the most quickly”.

The US’s 100 senators, many of whom are advanced in age, will return to Washington, DC on Monday following a recess that was prolonged due to the pandemic.

00:54 GMT – Yemen’s Houthi rebels call for more test kits

Taha al-Mutawakel, the Houthi public health minister, urged the United Nations to increase the number of testing kits for COVID-19. 

“We are sending this appeal given the global situation of coronavirus, the ongoing assault against our country, the embargo on our country, and because the amount of the PCR tests which the World Health Organization has sent to us is very little and is about to run out,” he told reporters in Sanaa on Saturday.

00:26 GMT – UN calls for probe into Venezuela prison riot that left 46 dead

The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has called for an investigation into a prison riot in western Venezuela that left 46 people dead and 75 injured.

The OHCHR said on Twitter it is “gravely concerned” about the incident on Friday at the Los Llanos penitentiary in Portuguesa state. The South American country’s prisons are infamous for extreme levels of violence and poor conditions.

“We urge the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation, tackle overcrowding, and guarantee basic rights,” the office said.

The riot came shortly after prison officials barred inmates’ family members from bringing them food, a measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus within prisons.

00:12 GMT – Guards freed after prison riot at Brazil’s Manaus

Prison authorities in Brazil said 10 guards and five inmates suffered non-critical injuries following an uprising at a prison in Manaus, a state capital in the Amazon rainforest.

The inmates held seven guards hostage for more than five hours, but the situation was brought under control, according to the state’s public security secretariat.

Relatives of inmates said the prisoners at Puraquequara prison were protesting the suspension of all family visits and poor conditions at the lockup amid the coronavirus pandemic.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives, with all the latest updates. 

You can find all the key developments from yesterday, March 2, here. 





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China coronavirus infections rise as some Spanish companies prepare to restart work | World news


China has seen a rise in Covid-19 cases along its northern border with Russia, as some Spanish factories and construction sites are preparing to resume work amid other continuing restrictions.

On Sunday China’s national health commission reported 108 new infections, the highest number in more than five weeks, surpassing Saturday’s 99, which was nearly double the 46 reported on Friday.

All but 10 of the cases were imported, and seven of the local infections were in the Heilongjiang province, a northern region where authorities are increasing restrictions and monitoring after a rise in people with Covid-19 crossing the Russian border.

China Russia map

Heilongjiang’s capital, Harbin, as well as the border city of Suifenhe – which is under some Wuhan-style restrictions – now require all arrivals to quarantine for 28 days and undergo testing. Under the new restrictions, residential units in Harbin – where people have been confirmed to have the virus, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic – are to be locked down for 14 days.

Suifenhe was one of the few routes for people to return to China from Russia after Russia stopped all flights and closed its land border to incoming traffic in late January and early February.

Hubei province, where the outbreak began, again recorded no new cases, but two deaths in Wuhan.

In Europe, Italy and France reported a drop in deaths in the past 24 hours – with Italy, the European nation most afflicted by the disease, reporting its lowest toll in more than three weeks.

Some Spanish companies will resume operations on Monday, at the end of a two-weeks halt to all non-essential activity. The country’s death toll has fallen over recent days, but as a small bump in deaths was reported on Sunday, the prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, warned that the locked-down country was “far from victory”.

“We are all keen to go back out on the streets … but our desire is even greater to win the war and prevent a relapse,” he said. “General confinement will remain the rule for the next two weeks and the only people allowed out will be those going to authorised jobs or making authorised purchases.”

The move to allow some business to resume has drawn criticism from some sectors, which fear infections will rise again. Those returning to work have been advised to maintain social distancing, and face masks will be handed out in metro and rail stations.

“I want to be very clear: we are not entering a phase of de-escalation,” Sánchez said. “The state of emergency is still in force and so is the lockdown. The only thing that has come to an end is the two-week extreme economic hibernation period.”

Italy is expected to let more businesses begin operating on Tuesday.

In the US, Donald Trump took to Twitter on Sunday night to angrily deny accusations that he rebuffed advice to implement physical distancing measures as far back as February, describing the New York Times, which printed the allegations, as a “fake” paper.

Donald J. Trump
(@realDonaldTrump)

The @nytimes story is a Fake, just like the “paper” itself. I was criticized for moving too fast when I issued the China Ban, long before most others wanted to do so. @SecAzar told me nothing until later, and Peter Navarro memo was same as Ban (see his statements). Fake News!


April 13, 2020

Trump’s top medical adviser on the pandemic, Anthony Fauci, appeared to confirm the allegations, which said he and other administration officials recommended physical distancing measures in February but were rebuffed for almost a month.

Fauci told CNN that “there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then”.

In the same CNN interview, Fauci said any gradual economic re-start in the US would be dependent on rapid and widespread testing. “Once the number of people who are seriously ill sharply declines, officials can begin to think about a gradual re-entry of some sort of normality, some rolling re-entry.”

Fauci believed this could happen in some places by May, but cautioned that easing restrictions would result in more infections. “I mean, that is just reality.”

He said he believed that if there was a “good, measured way of rolling into the steps towards normality”, then people would hopefully be able to vote in the 3 November election “the standard way”.

Current social distancing measures in the US are due to expire on 30 April.

The global number of confirmed cases has passed 1.85 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. There have been more than 114,000 deaths globally, including 19,899 in Italy, where the fatality rate has started to slow.

In other developments:

  • Germany’s number of confirmed coronavirus infections has risen by 2,537 to 123,016. That was lower than a 2,821 increase reported on Sunday and marked the third decline after four days of increases. The reported death toll has risen by 126 to 2,799.

  • Top oil-producing countries agreed Sunday on “historic” output cuts in a bid to boost plummeting oil prices due to the new coronavirus crisis and a Russia-Saudi price war.

  • Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to accept the resignation of his interior minister over an abrupt nationwide lockdown that triggered a spate of panic-buying.

  • Boris Johnson was discharged from hospital and thanked the NHS for “saving [his] life”.

  • The UK government is facing mounting criticism over its coronavirus response, particularly over its failure to secure enough personal protective equipment and tests for NHS and care workers, as the country’s death toll passed 10,000. It followed a warning that the UK could end up with the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe.

  • Thousands of displaced Syrians began returning to Idlib, some driven by fear of the spread of coronavirus to camps near the Turkish border.

  • China vowed to improve treatment of Africans in the southern city of Guangzhou following international pressure. Facing accusations of discrimination linked to the pandemic, China said it rejected all “racist and discriminatory” remarks.





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