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HONG KONG — Chinese authorities are moving to ease strict “zero-Covid” controls, in an apparent response to a nationwide wave of protests that have otherwise been suppressed. Police form a cordon in Beijing on Monday during a protest against China’s strict “zero-Covid” measures. Kevin Frayer / Getty ImagesChinese authorities have mostly stamped out the protests, with heavy police presence at protesters’ former gathering sites. Like other Chinese leaders, Jiang showed little tolerance for dissent, jailing activists and banning the Falun Gong religious movement. But the political environment has greatly tightened under Xi, leading some people in China to reassess Jiang’s legacy.
While the protests were largely tamped down, there continued to be scattered incidents of unrest. Experts say China will have a tough time navigating its way out of the pandemic without getting more people inoculated. The National Health Commission said Tuesday that it was especially focused on increasing vaccinations among people older than 80, though it did not announce a mandate. With new, mostly asymptomatic infections still being reported across China — 38,421 on Tuesday, down from a record 40,052 the day before — some Covid restrictions are still tightening. An opinion article Tuesday in People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, said officials at all levels must “unswervingly implement” the government’s Covid policies.
Asked about the protests on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the Chinese government was adjusting its Covid measures based on the realities on the ground. “We believe that with the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the support of the Chinese people, our fight against Covid-19 will be successful,” he said at a regular news briefing. Zhao also addressed the detention of BBC journalist Ed Lawrence, who was arrested Sunday while covering the protests in Shanghai. The Communist Party “has a lot of experience accumulated over the years in dissipating social unrest,” she said. Most of the people who protested appeared to be from the Han ethnic group that dominates China.
The factory’s iPhone 14 production has been slowed by a labor shortage that began last month, when a Covid outbreak and an accompanying lockdown sent workers fleeing back to their hometowns. China’s “dynamic zero-Covid” measures make it an outlier among the world’s major economies, causing growing public frustration and economic pain. Though officials announced new “optimized” measures this month, they are struggling to ease the burden without setting off a major exit wave. Despite the purported easing of measures in China, a single case can still bring targeted lockdowns and sudden quarantines. Covid measures were further tightened on Thursday in the capital, Beijing, which is already in near-lockdown with schools, parks and shopping malls closed and a negative Covid test required every 48 hours to enter public places anywhere in the city.
Easing Covid measures means accepting a rise in cases that is likely to get worse as winter approaches. Residents buy medications at a pharmacy in Shijiazhuang, China, last week. “There will always be complaints.”Though many people in China still support “zero-Covid,” the strict measures have also stoked growing resentment. China is thus now facing a dual challenge, said Donald Low, a professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. “You’re going to see the Hong Kong story played out on a much larger scale” in mainland China, Low said.
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea fired a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile Friday, the South Korean and Japanese governments said, a day after it resumed weapons tests as it vowed “fiercer” military responses to the U.S.’s strengthening its alliances with South Korea and Japan. It would be the second ICBM North Korea has fired this month and the third this year, after it refrained from conducting such tests since 2017. Japan’s Defense Ministry also said it appeared to be an ICBM-class ballistic missile. In a statement Thursday, North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said the summit would lead to a “more unpredictable phase” in the situation on the Korean Peninsula. U.S. and South Korean officials say North Korea is also preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test, which would be its first since 2017.
It shows Xi rebuking Trudeau over alleged leaks from a 10-minute conversation the two leaders had on Tuesday, their first meeting in more than three years. “Everything we discussed has been leaked to the paper; that’s not appropriate,” a smiling Xi told Trudeau through a translator. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that the video showed a “normal” conversation between the two leaders. Asked about the video at a news conference in Bali on Wednesday, Trudeau confirmed that he had raised the question of foreign interference with Xi. “This is something we always do, and we will continue to.”Trudeau sidestepped a question about whether the confrontation was a “power play” by Xi.
HONG KONG — After mass unrest in 2019, a pandemic that left it isolated from the world and the imposition of a national security law that has crushed dissent, Hong Kong is ready to turn the page. According to government statistics, about 319,000 people arrived in Hong Kong last month, down 97% from 10.8 million in October 2019. According to one report last month, Hong Kong has lost its status as Asia’s top financial center to Singapore. While it may not be realistic to expect businesses to turn away from China’s huge market, global business leaders “need to recognize that there’s a new situation in Hong Kong, there’s a new reality,” said Brian Kern, the lead researcher for a report on doing business in Hong Kong that was published last month by the Hong Kong Democracy Council, a nonprofit group based in Washington. Lee also pointed to a report in September in which Hong Kong topped Singapore as the world’s freest economy.
North Korea has escalated its weapons tests and fiery rhetoric as the U.S. and South Korea continue large-scale joint military exercises this week. An hour later, North Korea fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles toward the sea from the Gaechon area of South Pyongan province. North Korea last tested an intercontinental ballistic missile in March, its first such test since 2017. Early last month, North Korea sent an intermediate-range ballistic missile soaring over Japan in its longest-ever weapons test. Tensions had already risen Wednesday when South Korea responded to North Korea’s barrage by firing three air-to-surface missiles of its own.
North Korea's provocations on Wednesday, while highly symbolic, are "more for show than for military escalation," he told NBC News. Hours before firing its first missiles, North Korea threatened the United States and South Korea over joint military exercises continuing this week that the North considers a rehearsal for invasion. Yoon's office said the timing of the North Korean launches "clearly showed the nature of the North Korean government." Over the course of the day, North Korea fired at least 23 ballistic missiles toward the sea. But Russia and China are also wary of North Korea and its unpredictability, Foster-Carter said.
SEOUL, South Korea — The South Korean government will conduct a thorough investigation into the Halloween crowd crush that killed more than 150 people in the capital over the weekend, officials said Monday, as the country mourned its worst disaster in years. Tens of thousands of people had gathered on Saturday in Itaewon, a nightlife district of Seoul that is popular with foreigners, when a crowd surge began in a sloped and narrow alleyway, setting off a deadly panic. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol pays tribute in front of City Hall in Seoul on Monday. The crowd surge is the country’s deadliest peacetime accident since the 2014 sinking of the Sewol ferry. Stella Kim and Thomas Maresca reported from Seoul, and Jennifer Jett reported from Hong Kong.
HONG KONG — Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s first two terms in power were marked by intensifying competition and tensions with the United States. The United States does not seek conflict with China, Biden told a meeting of his top military advisers Wednesday. “China stands ready to work with the United States to find the right way to get along with each other in the new era,” he said. But China under Xi has a “superficial stability,” Johnson said. Hulton Deutsch / Corbis via Getty ImagesAt 69, Xi has appointed no obvious successor, indicating he may plan to stay in power indefinitely.
HONG KONG — A Hong Kong court found media tycoon Jimmy Lai guilty of fraud on Tuesday, the latest in a myriad of cases against Lai and other pro-democracy activists that critics say officials are using to stamp out dissent in the Chinese territory. Lai, 74, the founder of defunct pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily, is among the most prominent activists to be prosecuted in the wake of anti-government protests that swept Hong Kong for months in 2019. Lai and co-defendant Wong Wai-keung, a former senior executive at Next Digital who was also convicted, both pleaded not guilty. Critics of the national security law say it has greatly eroded civil liberties in Hong Kong, the preservation of which had been promised for 50 years when the former British colony was returned to Chinese rule in 1997. An annual survey by the Committee to Protect Journalists found that the number of Hong Kong journalists it considers unjustly imprisoned for their work rose from zero to eight in 2021.
HONG KONG — Xi Jinping secured a historic third term as leader of China on Sunday, cementing his status as the country’s most powerful figure in decades and extending his authoritarian rule over the world’s second-largest economy. The Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping introduced the limit in 1982 to prevent a return to a Mao-style cult of personality. The Chinese leader reiterated the goal of peaceful “reunification,” without renouncing the possible use of force. “Xi still promises no specific timeline on unification.”But the Chinese leader did put greater emphasis on warning “external forces” to stay out of the Taiwan issue. A telecast of Chinese President Xi Jinping plays on a screen in Hong Kong on Monday.
HONG KONG — Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to obtain a historic third term in power as the twice-a-decade congress of his ruling Chinese Communist Party wraps up this weekend. Since Xi took power in 2012, the country's GDP has more than doubled, from $8.53 trillion to $17.73 trillion. Much of that growth was based on manufacturing, turning China into the world’s second-largest economy after the United States since 2010. The government attributes 100 million of them to Xi, who made poverty alleviation one of his signature initiatives. Last February, he proclaimed that he had eliminated extreme poverty altogether, though experts have questioned how China defines it.
But the theme of the event is continuity — of President Xi Jinping as leader, and with that the likelihood of friction with the U.S.-led West. Xi, China’s most powerful leader in decades, is poised to secure an unprecedented third term at this week’s twice-a-decade National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing. “Those achievements have certainly strengthened the president’s leadership.”Under Xi, China’s gross domestic product has more than doubled to $17.7 trillion. Born in Beijing in 1953, Xi enjoyed a privileged youth as the second son of Xi Zhongxun, a Chinese communist revolutionary. “The long-term goals of President Xi, as well as general attitudes in the West, will make it very difficult for us to have more cooperation during his third term,” she said.
HONG KONG — At least 27 people were killed when a bus in southwest China crashed while transporting them to a Covid-19 quarantine facility, local authorities said, drawing outrage from a public growing weary with the country’s strict “zero-Covid” policies. Three officials in Yunyan District, where the bus originated, have also been suspended pending an investigation. Epidemic prevention personnel disinfect an area in Guiyang, China, on Thursday. Future Publishing via Getty Images file“Actually, 1.4 billion people are all on this same bus, the bus of Covid prevention and control,” one comment read, referring to China’s total population. It was unclear whether those on the bus had Covid-19, or were there because cases had been detected among their close contacts or neighbors.
U.S. forces would defend Taiwan if China invaded, President Joe Biden said Sunday, his clearest statement yet on the issue and one that is likely to infuriate Beijing. In a “60 Minutes” interview broadcast on CBS, Biden was asked whether the U.S. would defend Taiwan against an attack from Beijing, which claims the self-ruling island democracy as its territory. It is at least the fourth time since last year that Biden has made comments that appear to alter longtime U.S. policy on Taiwan. “The president has said this before, including in Tokyo earlier this year,” the spokesperson said, referring to comments Biden made in May. “He also made clear then that our Taiwan policy hasn’t changed.
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